Seychelles pursuing biogas plant to help reduce landfill waste
Sorting trash is one way to help reduce the volume of waste. (Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles’ environment ministry is encouraging investment in a biodigestion plant that will convert waste in the landfill into biogas, a top official said.
The principal secretary for environment, Alain De Commarmond, told SNA that the government intends to put more effort and support into improving the renewable energy supply to provide an answer to the growing climate change challenges and cost of oil.
“Interest to develop biogas technologies has grown over the world. This has been a result of its socio-economic and environmental benefits. Therefore, as a small island state, we should also be tapping into this source of energy,” said De Commarmond.
According to the ‘Solid Waste Management in the Seychelles‘ report compiled by students from ETH Zurich and the University of Seychelles in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, waste management poses threats to the island nation as most of the waste generated ends up in the landfill.
As per the Seychelles Sustainable Development Strategy (2012-2020), the 93,000 inhabitants of the island nation generates about 48,000 tonnes of waste per year.
De Commarmond said that it is the responsibility of the Seychelles’ government to protect the pristine environment of Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, and to reduce the carbon footprint to zero if need be.
A tender will be launched later this year to choose an investor with the best biodigestion system to carry out work at the national level.
Biodigestion is a biological process that occurs when organic matter is decomposed by bacteria in the absence of oxygen resulting in biogas being released and captured. In a biogas plant, an airtight container called a digester holds bacteria that breaks down organic waste in the absence of oxygen.
Speaking to SNA, the chief executive of the Seychelles Energy Commission, Tony Imaduwa said biogas is a flexible source of energy.
“Its flexibility applies to various aspects - resources, technical complexity and scale of plants, as well as the form and utilisation of the energy produced,” said Imaduwa, adding that: “It is a renewable source of energy that can be utilised at the time of demand.”
Commenting on its sustainability, Imaduwa said, in the long run, the availability of waste will not be enough to meet the demand for biogas energy.
“We are looking at various sources of renewable energy and complementing them with energy efficiency technologies and energy conservation measures,” Imaduwa explained.
The chief executive said the aim is to bring the island nation’s renewable energy needs to 5 percent in 2020, and with the introduction of the production biogas, they will attain this objective.
According to Imaduwa, biogas could be used directly by burning the gas for cooking, lighting or producing heat. It also could be burnt in a generator to produce electricity. The commission is also in discussions with the agricultural sector to see how biogas can be produced from farming.
Imaduwa said, “Definitely whatever is produce can be utilised by the farm itself and help reduce their operating cost. Effluent from the plant can be used to prepare fertilisers, which in return can either be sold to other farmers or use by the farm itself.”
The Indian Ocean Tuna company has already planned to invest in a biogas system to reduce their operating cost.