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Lagos to be Powered by Garbage

Lagos to be Powered by Garbage

Lagos, Nigeria, one of the world’s largest cities and second only to Cairo in Africa, is about to turn a problem into an opportunity.  The city has earned the title “the garbage capital of the world”.  Up to now, that has been an unwanted moniker, making people think of dumps and horrific odors.  Now, though, they have a plan to turn the bane of the city into one of its greatest assets.

The city of over 20 million currently produces over 10,000 tons of waste every day.  Much of that waste comes from food, especially fruit.  Now, though, the city’s government is set to start a pilot project to extract methane from decaying fruit as a means of powering the city.

Lagos residents get only a few hours’ worth of energy per day.  Those who can afford generators have to rely heavily on them while those who can’t are forced to live without power most of the time.  Not only does that make things uncomfortable in the balmy temperatures that the city has year round, but it also puts a strain on the city’s economy.  While it is the fastest growing city in Africa and one of the fastest growing in the world, it will need more power if it is to maintain that boom.

Managing Director of the Lagos Waste Management Authority Ola Oresanya expects the project, which will be funded entirely by the Lagos state government, to take about five years.   Upon completion, it is expected to have a 25 megawatt capacity.  That will account for just one percent of the demand that exists in the city, but it is seen as the beginning of what could turn into a significantly larger effort.

Although the main goal of the project is to start to meet the energy needs of Lagos’s population, there are ancillary benefits as well.  Environmentally, the carbon dioxide that is emitted in the process of burning methane is just one-twenty fifth that of the methane itself.  Not only is this good for the planet, but it‘ll also make life healthier in areas where the dumps exist.

In terms of the sites themselves, the Olusosun dump, which spans over 100 acres, is up to 25 meters high, and goes as deep as 35 meters underground, will be buried in dirt.  The land will be covered with grass and trees.  Underground pipes will access the methane underneath and transfer it to the power plant.

The plan, which is based off of similar programs in Scandinavia, is just one part of a greater effort to clean up the city.  Lagos’s recent growth has been centred around economic opportunity, and to this point other concerns have been treated as more pressing than those regarding the handling of waste.  Now, though, it appears that the city is ready to address two issues at once.  Should this all go well, dealing with the waste and energy issues together will also serve as a boon to the city’s economy, making it a win-win-win for all involved.

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