Spanish city to use oranges to generate clean electricity

WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:

  • Seville has millions of kilos of unwanted oranges that go to waste every year.
  • Emasesa, the municipal water company, plans to use methane gas produced by fruits’ fermentation to generate electricity.
  • The company’s initial goal is to power the city’s water purification plants.

Some people say Seville, a city in southern Spain, is the “world’s largest orange grove.” The city has around 48,000 trees, filling the air with the sweet scent of Azahar orange blossoms in the spring. However, the millions of kilos of fruit make for a hazard in the winter when they fall into the streets, get crushed by cars, and attract flies.

Now, there is a plan to produce added value from waste- use the methane produced during the unwanted fruits’ fermentation to generate clean electricity.

Emasesa, the municipal water company, launched the initial scheme. Thirty-five tons of oranges will be used to produce energy to run one of the water purification plants in the city. The company’s environmental department head, Benigno Lopez, says that they hope to “recycle all the city’s oranges.” To be able to achieve this goal, he estimates that the city has to make an investment of about €250,000.

Around 15,000 tons of fruit are produced in the region, but most are exported to Britain for marmalade because the Spanish don’t eat the oranges.

A vast quantity is still left, usually ending up in a landfill or being used as fertilizer. Though the current goal is to generate energy to run the water purification plants, eventually, the hope is to put surplus energy back into the grid.

The team behind the project says trials have shown that 1,000 kg of fruit produce around 50kWh, which can power five homes for a day. If all the city’s oranges are recycled and the energy produced put back into the grid, it could be possible to power 73,000 homes.

The mayor of Seville, Juan Espadas Cejas, calls Emasesa a “role model in Spain for sustainability and the fight against climate change.”

Source: The Guardian

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