Renewable energy company EECOfuels on Tuesday launched Africa’s first 120 kW biomass-powered gasification plant in Honeydew, Johannesburg.
The technology enabling the gasification plant converts carbon-based waste products, such as wood chips, garden waste and solid municipal waste – and in this particular case, macadamia nut shells, into electricity through a custom-designed gasification process.
This, the company says, is achieved at about a tenth of the cost of standard power generation and with no cost to the environment.
The plant in Honeydew is a pilot operation and the electricity is fed through a resistor for demonstration purposes. The company adds that a plant such as this could, however, provide about 50% of the electricity needs of the business park that it occupies.
EECOfuels is also currently constructing a 500-kW plant.
The complete power plant solution combines gasification technology with a Gastech engine to create energy out of waste, thus providing a solution to two of the most pressing global concerns, namely waste management and sustainable power generation.
The Gasifier is 100% locally designed and built, while the gas generator is imported.
The biomass Gasifier range has the capacity to produce between 120 kW to 5 MW of electricity, using various common waste streams.
The smallest unit could provide sustainable power for up to 30 households daily, said the company. Each kilogram of waste delivers about one kW/h of electricity.
“This technology does for power generation what cell phones did for telecommunications. We put the power plant where the power is needed. If a hospital needs power, we build the power plant right next to it. This goes for any business type. Our clients are potentially governments, mines, farms and any other business that generates carbonaceous waste,” explains EECOfuels MD Marcel Steinberg.
The EECOfuels ‘green power plant’ is the first commercially available application of gasification technology in Africa.
Nedbank Capital head of Carbon Finance Kevin Whitfield notes that the EECOfuels model has the potential to revolutionise the way in which energy is generated in Africa.
EECOfuels explains that support during the development phase of the project came from Nedbank Capital and Enviroserv.
“EECOfuels’ gasification solution is suitable for both small and large applications. The design is modular, relatively maintenance-free, cost-effective, sustainable, as well as eco-friendly. It serves as an incentive for each of us to keep our back-yard clean while providing electricity in rural areas where power supply has been challenging,” adds Steinberg.
“Creativity and innovative thinking are key drivers for developing a green economy, and EECOfuels gasification technology encompasses both,” emphasises Whitfield.