Namibia: Organic Waste for Alternative Power Generation

11 February 2020

NAMIBIAN entrepreneurs have found a way of reducing environmental damage by using organic waste as alternative energy, replacing liquefied gas and coal for household use.

Charles Haluodi, the co-founder of Nghishe Biotech, said using firewood for cooking and heating is a thing of the past.

An invention that can turn organic waste (food waste, animal and plant waste) into environmentally friendly cooking gas and organic fertiliser eliminates not only the need to use firewood for heating but also helps fight climate change.

"This helps the country do away depleting forests and destroying natural habitats by embracing biogas," he said.

He added that Namibia continues to produce organic waste (food, plant and animal waste like cow dung), but it has not been put to maximum use.

"This waste, which ends up at dumping sites or buried as a way of waste management, still goes through a natural process of decomposing, releasing a high mass of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere," he explained.

Haluodi said the biofuel they are focussing on is produced through biological and biotechnological-engineered processes from biomass using small living organisms such as bacteria.

Biogas is highly flammable like liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and can be used for cooking, heating, electricity generation and even to power motor vehicles.

For convenience, it can be compressed into a gas cylinder for easy transportation and it can also be liquefied.

In terms of affordability, Haluodi said, according to their costing, biogas is cheaper than LPG, as the raw materials used to produce it are organic waste, like food leftovers, which always end up in dumps.

Years back, gas reserves were discovered on the southern coast of Namibia (Kudu gas) but the country has failed to tap into the resource, with the government saying the project is too expensive for treasury alone and would require private sector involvement.

In terms of safety, Haluodi said biogas is lighter than air hence in the event of a leakage; it rises and escapes into the atmosphere. In comparison, LPG, which is denser than the surrounding air, in the event of a leakage, collects under items such as tables and beds.

In this instance, the moment a naked flame is introduced, an explosion occurs, Haluodi said.

With so many cases of shacks burning, he gave an assurance that with biogas, shacks would hardly burn down because any leakage escapes into the air.

He said the biogas household systems can also be installed in town houses to save on electricity by turning kitchen waste into heating gas.

The country spends billions annually in electricity imports and with biogas, households can reduce their expenditure by using alternative energy for heating and lighting using special biogas lamps, heaters and generators.

Haluodi added that their products are available for informal settlement dwellers, who do not have access to electricity.

He said they "compressed biogas into cylinders, targeting mostly those living in informal settlements and everyone that depends on firewood as a source of energy, and do not produce too much waste to feed the system".

Nghishe Biotech is also targeting farmers, both commercial and subsistence, to construct special systems for them to turn manure into cooking gas and organic fertiliser, which can be used in the field.

The systems can also be engineered to connect with toilets to safely decompose human waste into gas and fertiliser.

Namibia mostly relies on South Africa's Eskom and the Southern Africa PowerPool for power imports. However, Eskom is battling with load-shedding now with daily blackouts, as it struggles to supply the country with sufficient power.

On the other end, the world is moving to environmentally friendly methods of producing power to reduce the carbon footprint.

Climate change is worsening, while Namibia continues to produce a lot of organic waste (food leftovers, plant waste and animal droppings), which the country is struggling to manage properly.

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