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News 6 October 2014

Almost all household waste turned to biogas for fuel

“We now have the potential to burn all household waste of Aruba and convert it into biogas”, says Oslin Boekhoudt, managing director of Water and Electricity company (WEB) during the opening ceremony of the Waste to Power installation of waste processing company Ecotech. The gasification installation can handle practically all the household waste of Aruba and still has a 20 per cent surplus capacity should the amount of waste increase. “The first in the Caribbean and South America”, adds the proud manager of Ecotech, Freddy Kelkboom.

The new Waste to Power installation, which is in its final test phase, means that the delivery of biogas to WEB will be official before the end of 2014. The gas is produced by burning waste. This means we kill two birds with one stone: it is environmentally sound and lowers our dependency on heavy heating oil and therefore also the unreliable prices of energy. “Wehave the first Waste to Power installation in the Caribbean and South America and after 4.5 yearspreparing and completing this process we now hope to reap the benefits. We want to be an example for other countries in the region, putting sustainability on the agenda. Aruba can become a role model for the region”, says Kelkboom. Croon Caribe was responsible for the power installation and the installation of the medium voltage transformers and distributors of Ecotech.

2.5 kilometre pipelines

WEB director Boekhoudt explains how all waste of Aruba and a surplus capacity of 20 percent can be processed. “To transport the gas we have installed a pipeline that is ten inches thick and 2.5 kilometre long, running between Ecotech, south of Barcadera, to WEB. One of the boilers of WEB is adapted so it can also run on alternative fuel and a gas motor was installed that produces 2 MW. The thermal efficiency is 30 percent.” The company expects to be able to increase production to 8 MW. “Aruba consumes 100 MW daily”, says the managing director. “The challenges for a small island like Aruba, being isolated and small-scale, compel us to be more self-sufficient for energy and water. Efficiency and sustainability are a must.”

Innovation

Innovation is, with sustainability, the reason that Ecotech bought this installation. Collaboration with a similarly minded partner is essential and they have found this partner in WEB “Since 2006 WEB reduced its use of heating oil with 40%. As we are involved in wind and solar energy Ecotech approached us with this plan”, according to Boekhoudt. After together visiting a Waste to Power installation abroad we began our collaboration. A Letter of Intent was signed during the ‘Europe Meets America’ conference in July 2013 and the project began in December the same year.

The guests of the opening ceremony were given a guided tour of the installation. Kelkboom explained that not all the waste can be used: iron and aluminium are removed before the process, as well as glass, stone and sand, as they do not burn. Wood, paper and plastics are shaped into a compact substance that releases the gas during heating. This is the biogas that will be transported to WEB.

Kelkboom hopes to begin a collaboration with waste processing company Serlimar soon, who still use the overflowing landfill Parkietenbos.