-by Amanda Froelich
Go, Ethiopia! The African nation is doing its part to reduce the continent’s burgeoning trash crisis. One of the ways it is doing so is by building Africa’s first energy plant that converts trash into electricity.
For nearly fifty years, Ethiopia’s largest trash dump, Koshe, was home to hundreds of people. Those who lived nearby would collect and resell rubbish trucked in, primarily from the capital Addis Ababa. Last year, however, 114 people were killed after a massive landslide. The development prompted the government to rethink an alternative use for the site, which is approximately the size of 36 football pitches.
As Face2FaceAfrica reports, Koshe is being turned into a new waste-to-energy plant via the Reppie Waste-to-Energy Project. Reportedly, it is the first of its kind in Africa. The goal is to revolutionize waste management practices in the country.
The plant, which was expected to begin operating in January, will incinerate 1,400 tons of waste every day. This is about 80 percent of the city’s waste generation. The electricity that is generated will supply nearby residents with 30 percent of their household energy needs.
Said Zerubabel Getachew, Ethiopia’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, in Nairobi last year:
“The Reppie project is just one component of Ethiopia’s broader strategy to address pollution and embrace renewable energy across all sectors of the economy. We hope that Reppie will serve as a model for other countries in the region, and around the world.”
Rubbish from the landfill will be incinerated in a combustion chamber. The heat that is produced will be used to boil water until it turns to steam. That steam will drive a turbine generator that produces electricity.
In addition to generating electricity, the waste-to-energy plan will save space. Africa’s first energy plant will also prevent the release of toxic chemicals into groundwater and reduce the release of greenhouse gases (specifically, methane) into the atmosphere.
In Europe, waste-to-energy plants are already popular. So far, nearly 25 percent of municipal waste is incinerated. In France, there are 126 waste-to-energy plants. In Germany, there are 121. And in Italy, there are 40 plants. Because the Reppie plant contributes towards alleviating air pollution, it operates within the emissions standards of the European Union.
Waste management is a big challenge for many African countries. Especially in poverty-stricken regions, the collection, management, and disposal of solid waste have not been solved. Mismanagement of waste can lead to flooding and the outbreak of disease, hence the importance of this latest development.