From organic waste to electricity, helping power SIDS Golf Carts with biofuel
Apia, Samoa – Delegates attending the Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) conference this week will get around on golf carts partly powered by bio-fuel, thanks to a partnership between Samoa’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
Using simple technology, this partnership will demonstrate at SIDS how everyday kitchen scraps, weeds and other organic waste can be used to produce biogas for cooking and lighting, as well as to make electricity. The electricity produced onsite will be used to top up the 15 golf carts being used to ferry delegates around at the SIDS village.
Samoa, like many Small Island Developing States, is looking for ways of moving away from its heavy reliance (68.5 percent) on expensive imported petroleum products for power. While one solution is large-scale renewable energy projects, it is also important to ensure that communities have access to affordable power. Producing energy using organic waste can be an affordable solution for communities.
As part of a wider effort in Samoa, under the regional Pacific Island Greenhouse Gas Abatement though Renewable Energy Programme (PIGGAREP), similar technology to that being demonstrated at the SIDS village this week is set to be rolled-out in Piu village on the south coast of Samoa. The six families who live here are not connected to the electricity grid, and have very limited access to modern electricity. As a demonstration of what might be possible across the country, PIGGAREP is now supporting Piu to build and manage a power station fuelled completely by local organic waste.
The goal is to connect Piu to the national electricity grid, enabling the village to feed excess power back to the grid, bringing an opportunity for income generation to the village. An interesting aspect of this particular project is that it will make use of the noxious Merremia vine, which has been spreading across agricultural land in Samoa and other Pacific Island countries. The weed that is being cleaned from agricultural areas can be used as biomass for the planned energy system. Considering the high cost of electricity (0.45 cents for one kilowatt hour) this kind of effort represents a significant gain for communities like Piu.
The Samoa part of PIGGAREP has been possible thanks to funding from Denmark through the SIDS DOCK Support Programme, which is implemented by UNDP and SPREP.