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Jan 10, 2019 | Science & Environment

Conversion Of Waste-To-Energy; An Alternative For Constant Power Supply And Solution To Clean A Ghana

By Azuraa Bukari Ayuba
Conversion Of Waste-To-Energy; An Alternative For Constant Power Supply And Solution To Clean A Ghana

Throughout most of history, the amount of waste generated by humans was insignificant due to low population density and low societal levels of the exploitation of natural resources.

Common waste produced during pre modern times was mainly ashes and human biodegradable waste, and these were released back into the ground locally, with minimum environmental impact.

Tools made out of wood or metal were generally reused or passed down through the generations. However, some civilizations do seem to have been more profligate in their waste output than others.

For example the Maya of Central America had a fixed monthly ritual, in which the people of the village would gather together and burn their rubbish in large dumps.

However, it was not until the mid-19th century, spurred by increasingly devastating cholera outbreaks and the emergence of a public health debate that the first legislation on the issue emerged. Highly influential in this new focus was the report The Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population in 1842 of the social reformer, Edwin Chadwick, in which he argued for the importance of adequate waste removal and management facilities to improve the health and wellbeing of the city's population.

The world produces 2.6 trillion pounds of waste every year, according to theatlantic.com Africa and South Asia produces the least waste in the world.

In terms of waste management, countries such as Sweden, United Sates, United Kingdom, Germany and United Arab Emirates are better off, Sweden not only collects its own household and industrial waste, but also imports waste from neighboring European countries in order to use it as a fuel in waste incineration plants.

In fact, you will be amazed to know that just four percent of Sweden’s household waste moves to landfills. Waste to energy trend has picked up very well in this country over the last few years. Its waste recycling program has been very efficient and successful.

According to Ms Heather Troutman, a research fellow, Urban Planning, UN Development and Programme, says Ghana produces 1.7 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, which could be recycled to produce affordable and sustainable building materials.

She said Accra, the capital city also produced 300 tonnes of plastic waste in a day. Ms Troutman said it was estimated that less than two per cent of the waste were recycled, however enormous opportunities could be brewed from the waste products.

The calculation is based on the average production of one kilogram of solid waste per person daily.

Constant power supply that would increase productivity in Ghana and also attract investors has been the challenge to Ghana’s economic development, the best way for Ghana to manage it waste properly is through incineration, just two percent of Ghana waste are been recycled where does the rest of 98% goes?

Landfills are been constructed around the country, it is a good way of managing waste but the dangers that landfills poses to the health of the average Ghanaian time to come is unbearable and the cost in constructing a proper landfill is very expensive with little benefits.

For Ghana to have a constant supply of electricity without shutting down of plant or incurring cost in the running of the various thermal plants in the country, the government and the various stakeholders should consider converting the billions of waste produce in Ghana into energy for constant power supply

One way to generate electricity using waste is to burn solid waste, like the material found in landfill Instead of a traditional landfill, a community might have a waste-to-energy facility that incinerates garbage, transforming chemical energy to thermal energy.

That thermal energy is transformed into electrical energy, usually by turning a turbine. Another energy resource that comes from our garbage is the methane gas that is produced as the waste decays. This gas can be used as fuel.

Hundreds of waste-to-energy plants are in operation in Europe and there are around 90 in the U.S. Although incineration has been around for centuries, modern waste-to-energy facilities must meet strict guidelines to capture pollutants, like dioxin, that would normally be released into the air.

For the ordinary Ghanaian to have constant supply of power to carry out whatever is necessary for human living, waste-to-energy is an alternative for Ghana and a way to manage waste in the cities and keep Ghana Clean.

Azuraa Bukari Ayuba
Integrated Development Studies
UDS – Wa Campus

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