Nigeria's Lagos set to turn vast trash into scarce power

Fri Oct 11, 2013 8:31am EDT
 
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By Tim Cocks

LAGOS (Reuters) - One thing Nigeria's megacity of Lagos, one of the world's largest, generates in abundance is trash. Now it plans to turn that rubbish into electricity which the city desperately lacks.

The equation is simple. In one day Africa's sprawling metropolis of up to 21 million people, according to official estimates, produces more than 10,000 metric tons (11,023 tons) of waste. In the same day it will get barely a few hours of power, forcing many inhabitants to rely on diesel generators.

Yet the methane from all that rotting waste is latent power.

"Energy is in demand, waste is a headache. If Lagos is able to convert its headache to feed that demand, then it's becoming a smart city," Ola Oresanya, managing director of the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) told Reuters at the notoriously pungent Olusosun dump site.

Oresanya aims to complete the project in around five years, by which time it will have a 25 megawatt (mw) capacity, he said. That is only 1 percent of the 2,000 - 3,000 mw that he estimates Lagosians demand, but it is a start.

Despite being Africa's top oil and gas producer, Nigeria's power output is a tenth of South Africa's for a population triple the size, a major brake on economic growth.

A pilot project to get power using methane extracted from rotting fruit has helped clean up a local plantain market and enables traders to switch off their generators when it is on, manager Tolu Adeyo said, demonstrating its power by lighting up the gas coming out of a hose connected to the project tank.

GARBAGE CAPITAL   Continued...

 
An aerial view shows the central business district in Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos in this April 7, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye