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Rural Power Supply Using Rural Waste

The necessity of reliable and affordable energy supply is a crucial point of discussion in developing countries, especially in the context of economic development and as a measure against poverty. Today, 77% of rural households in developing countries are not connected to the grid, i.e. a total of two billion people world-wide are without access to electricity. As the populations of developing countries are continually growing, each day there are more people without electricity.

Grid extension is frequently not an option – the average consumption load is too low to justify the high cost of infrastructure.

Decentralized stand-alone systems powered by diesel generators, hydro power, wind or PV are technically and commercially a viable alternative to grid extension. Cost calculations show that renewable energy systems in particular are very often ideally suited for decentralized rural electrification as they make people in remote areas independent of fuel deliveries and prices, they are best exploited on a small scale, and they are highly reliable. Therefore, local key players demonstrate substantial interest in alternative solutions.

The large number of households to be supplied however makes different demands on the involved actors, and new challenges like infrastructure development arise. For this reason, governmental institutions in many countries have started to adopt a rather market based approach to rural energy supply, and more and more private companies are involved in rural electrification activities.

Benefits of renewable-based decentralized generation system are:

  1. Clean and green energy production
  2. Sustainable development
  3. Energy autonomy and independence
  4. Access to energy to poor, deprived section even in remote rural area
  5. Generation of employment and infrastructure in rural area

There are several mature and reliable technologies available for decentralized renewable energy options in rural area. These include:

  • Biogas system
  • Biomass-based systems, including combustion, gasifiers, etc.
  • Mini-hydro
  • Wind generators and pumps
  • Solar photovoltaic
  • Solar thermal

Our company sees in rural power supply development using rural waste (biomass-based systems) the ideal technology for environment in countries with large agrarian economy where biomass – wood, agricultural residues like rice husk, animal dung, etc. – is available in enormous quantities.

This technology consists in converting the waste to fuel gas through AD and pyrolysis/gasification. Fuel gases derived during the treatment process are then used to generate electricity by various means, including without limitation, internal combustion engines with generators, fuel cells and/or mini-turbines.

This technology can enable small municipalities to take advantage of existing and potential revenue sources from waste management, provide cost competitive waste management services to the public, and develop its own independent power supply. This can be accomplished within a pollution-reduced environment, substantially reduced landfill use which prolongs landfill life, and the generation of alternative energy which contributes to the reduction of "greenhouse gases", burning of fossil fuels, and the country's dependence on foreign oil.

Furthermore, this technology has considerable environmental benefits. The treatment process is essentially particulate "emission-free"; most by-products are used as compost and fertilizer, and landfill use and development is greatly reduced. Alternative energy is produced which reduces greenhouse emissions and slows "global warming" problems. Further landfill development would not be necessary in many instances. In cases where area geology complicates landfill development because of the threat of ground water contamination, this system provides an environmentally acceptable alternative for waste management. Additionally, the security a community has owning its own power source is an asset. Being independent of the "grid" for its power supply relieves the municipality from potential outages that may come from large-scale grid failures that originate in other areas from various causes outside the control of the municipality. A municipality's ability to obtain electric utility status is an important factor in the economic and development feasibility of this technology.