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zu

Garbage Power Small W2E plant powers streetlights for 12 hours in a Mumbai Suburb

by Super Admin
0 comment

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It is a beautiful dream come true. No resident objected to the construction of a biogas plant in the middle of their area; the project was financed and executed by the residents’ association, and then handed over to the municipal corporation.

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The power company’s project team was highly cooperative, and pointed out future obstacles that were eliminated. One problem was the possibility that an erratic supply of power from the biogas plant would trip up the transformer; taking a leaf out of the book of rooftop solar plants, an inverter was installed, which could also measure the amount of power produced and the fraction supplied to the streetlights. This also saved the cost of installing a highly expensive transformer solely for the mini-grid, as well as nullified the need to dig up roads to lay new cables.

“We didn’t want any organic residue to go out of Pali Hill,” says Poplai; the plant produces 300kg of compost a week, so the association started vegetable farming on the same plot of land. The produce will be handed over free of cost to orphanages and old age homes in the area, and the excess compost supplied to anyone who asks, for no charge. In this way, food waste which comes from society, goes back to society.

With a total, all-inclusive investment of `55-60 lakhs, the biogas plant was installed. With a capacity of one tonne, it receives and processes an average of 900kg of organic waste every day. About 90- 95% of this waste arrives in already segregated state, the rest is segregated manually at the site. It is usually delivered by the municipal corporation at night, which is when it is fed into the plant.

Depending upon the amount of waste coming in the plant generates 110-120 units of electricity every day, a part of which is used to power 68 street-lights in the area. By saving on the cost of waste transportation (to a distant landfill) and cutting the cost of street-lighting, Poplai estimates that this has saved the municipal corporation `12-14 lakhs in just one year of operation. Plan are afoot to expand beyond 68 streetlights, and to apply this model to the entire ward of which Pali Hill is a part, with a plant of correspondingly bigger capacity.

“It is very satisfying how much we have achieved, and the amount of support this plant has garnered,” says Poplai. Even now, if the plant falls short of waste on a given day, the staff (which has only six members, including the transport team) rushes to neighbourhood restaurants, which willingly hand over their food waste.

What’s in the future?

At present, Yasasu is executing 10 projects across India, and has brought down the project installation time down to just three months (from the handover of site). Bhand wants to take his model to countries like Vietnam and Oman, He is also working on additives that will ensure adequate gas production, even if the supply of waste falls short.

He adds that with this model, he wants to help define standards for the waste sector; there are none at present. He also hopes to see healthy competition emerge; at the moment, Yasasu often finds itself to be the only bidder for projects.

Bhand is also working on a model for Vellore in Tamil Nadu, in which hotel owners will pay a subscription fee to have their food waste collected and transported to a biogas plant on land donated to the Vellore municipal corporation. As cooking gas becomes more and more expensive, the biogas produced will be compressed in cylinders and sold back to hotels at a subsidised rate, thus creating a circular economy. Since this will generate funds, hotels and the corporation won’t have to pay for the operations and maintenance of the plant either. Well, there is one getting ready at Delhi too!

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