As the world looks to combat climate change by trialling new ways to produce energy, Spain’s Seville municipal water company has looked to one of its largest exports for inspiration.
In Seville, 48,000 trees litter the streets in the winter months with 5.7m kilograms of bitter fruit, creating hazards for pedestrians and a headache for the city’s cleaning department.
This is a perfect example of a problem becoming the solution when the municipal water company introduced a trial to produce electricity using methane from fermenting the wasted oranges.
The excess oranges go through a process of juice extraction for the generation of electricity through biogas. The excess waste is then composted to become fertiliser used in farming.
During the purification process, the organic matter in the wastewater is stabilised through anaerobic digestion that generates methane-rich biogas, which is then used as fuel in cogeneration engines to produce electricity.
“The project started as a result of EMASESA’s interest in achieving energy self-sufficiency in the urban wastewater treatment process,” said the company’s CEO, Jaime Palop.
EMASESA aims to use this trial to achieve energy self-sufficiency for its Wastewater Treatment Plant in the city. The facility already generates electricity from organic matter.
The plant is expected to generate about 1,500 kWh, which is equivalent to the consumption of 150 homes. If all the city’s wasted oranges were recycled in this fashion the energy put back into the grid would power 73,000 homes. The plan is to put any surplus electricity generated into the grid by 2023.
Declared to be leading the way on energy efficiency, Juan Espadas Cejas (the mayor of Seville) said, “Emasesa is now a role model in Spain for sustainability and the fight against energy climate change”.
This is a brilliant example of how industry leaders can turn a problem into a solution, and how one city’s problem of oranges littering the streets can be utilised to produce energy and power 73,000 homes.
By Tim Strange
Tim Strange is Director of US Sales and Operations. While at NGP he has supported the roll out of its online price-comparison engine, BusinessEnergyQuotes.com, which is tailored to SMEs and sole traders. He has also managed our sales operation based in Leeds, helping them outperform their targets. Tim is now focused on driving further growth in Texas, with our US operation.