The Ethiopia Power Corporation (EPPCo) has commissioned a study to supply electric power to condominium apartments from the waste that they produce.
The plan envisages each condominium being able to generate its own power.
Cambridge Industries Energy, a British-based waste management company, is conducting the study, as requested by Mihret Debebe, CEO of the corporation.
"He is the one who came up with the idea first," Samuel Alemayehu, managing partner of Cambridge Industries Energy for East Africa, told Fortune.
There are 19 condominium sites in the capital, and 72,826 houses have already been transferred to the owners, by the city administration. Of the 19,Cambridgeis currently studying the Jemo site, in which around 10,000 households are located, making it among the largest sites in the capital.
Considering the amount of waste that the households produce; around 10,000tns, the company estimates that 2Mw of power could be produced, according to Samuel. An individual produces around 0.7 to one kilogram of solid and liquid waste on a daily basis.
The power generation plant will be erected at each site on a 10,000sqm area. The power generated will be a supplementary to the electricity power, thus whenever there is a blackout, the site will still maintain sufficient power. However, 2Mw will not be sufficient if the households use equipment that demands high power, like refrigerators.
It is yet to be decided if these stand-alone power generators will be linked to the main power grid.
The state power utility has also awarded a 120 million dollar contract, to the same company, to generate 50Mw of power out of the refuse, which Addis Abeba has accumulated for half a century at Repi, commonly known as Koshe.
The contract was signed on Friday, January 5, 2013, in the presence of Greg Horey, Ambassador of Theunited kingdomand North Ireland toEthiopia, Alemayehu Tegenu, minister of Water & Energy (MoWE), Debretsion Gebremicheal, minister of Communication & Information Technology (MCIT), under the rank of deputy prime minister, and Neway Gebreab, chief economic advisor to the prime minister.
The project will be realised after one and a half years, according to the contract. The Ethiopian government will be financing the project.
The investment cost for one megawatt of power generation from waste is 2.4 million dollars, showing a 100,000 dollar increase, when compared to Adama Wind Farm, which generates 51Mw. It is also much more expensive when compared to hydropower plants. For instance, the cost of a mega watt at Tana Beles, which generates 460Mw, is 1.08 million dollars.
Samuel, ofCambridge, argues that the price is more reasonable than other renewable energy sources. Adama wind farm is dependent on the environment, and thus, does not generate the stated power at all times. Power from waste, on the other hand, is dependent on the existence of humans, he argues further. Waste will always be available as long as human beings exist.
Since production of renewable energy involves high technology, it is assumed that it will be a little expensive, but if a country wants to build a clean energy supply, then that will be the price to pay, according to the energy expert.
"It is worth it."
The British and North Ireland Ambassador echoed this.
"This project symbolises so much of the ethos of the Ethiopian government towards a green economy," Greg said at the ceremony.
The city administration has granted seven hectares of land, out of Koshe's 47ha, for the erection of Cambridge's power generation plant. The company is considering Mesfin Industrial Engineering, to erect the plant and its electro mechanical works, according to Samuel.
To process the targeted power, the plant will be using around 350,000tns of solid waste, collected from Addis Abeba. This is only one third of the city's total waste. The company is not allowed to use the already buried waste at the Koshe, which experts say could be worth 400 million dollars.
People, who are currently collecting the waste from households, will deliver the required amount of rubbish from all over Addis. These people are organised through Small and Micro Enterprises (SME's). For the collection and transportation of the waste,Cambridgeis to manufacture three-wheelers that can hold up to 500kg waste.
The vehicles, specifically designed for this purpose, are to be assembled on a 10,000sqm plot that the company has secured from Gelan town, Samuel claims. The company is planning to sell the vehicles for 40,000Br, on credit, allowing the SME's to return it within five years.
"This will diversify our power generation," Mihret said during the signing ceremony.
The EPPCo, which generates 2,000Mw of power to date, is planning to increase its generation to 10,000Mw in 2014/15, of which 6.4pc is to be generated from nonrenewable energy. Nonetheless, power from renewable energies contribute less than one percent, to date.