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Published On: Mon, Dec 4th, 2017

Lagos revives abandoned waste to energy resourcing projects

By ABATAN ADEWALE JOSEPH

Lagos state government is exploring every available opportunity to ensure power supply in the state in view of the dwindling performance of the energy companies in the country. As the business and industrial hub of the economy, Lagos has suffered huge economic losses on account of poor power supply.

Governor Akinwumi Ambode recently hinted of advance investment plan by the state to generate 2000mw of electricity from 2018 to alleviate the financial burden on businesses in the state and encourage investors to the state. As part of this ambitious project the state government is renovating waste resourcing projects across the state, after years of abandonment by the previous administration, a Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) official said.

This project now under the management of an American firm, Visionscape, is expected to convert the massive wastes generated in the state to useable energy to drive industry and households.

“This place [waste depot] works before but they abandoned it for some years and it is no longer functional. The governor [Mr Ambode] that is there now is the one pumping money into this place, he is the one renovating this place – and this is happening in all the local governments in the state. Each local government has its own [waste depot].

“Government gave Visionscape the contract, they are the one taking over,” said the official. Visionscape Group is an international environmental utility organization whose services range from waste management to waste resourcing, including the design, building and management of waste-to-energy facilities – according to its official website page. Inadequate electricity is at the heart of the state socioeconomic challenges.

BusinessHallmark efforts to speak with Mr. Sanusi, the public relation officer of the Ministry of Environment, on how the waste-to-energy (WTE) project for power generation ranks in the overall waste resourcing scheme of the current administration didn’t yield result, as he directed us to “speak to LAWMA” on the issue as they are the best authority to give the inquired information. Following his directives, LAWMA was contacted but didn’t immediately respond to our calls or email sent to info@lawma.gov.ng.

Meanwhile, experts have argued that Lagos state, and Nigeria by extension, is yet to realise the “wasting potential in waste”. Energy and environment editor at The Initiative for Policy Research and Analysis (InPRA) and a Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), Mr  Okafor Akachukwu, decried the state government for not taking advantage of a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) funds, given the vast latent clean biogas that can be harnessed from its abundantly available municipal solid waste, MSW.

“This is more of a wide institutional lack of capacity which government needs to address. My observations from studying Nigeria’s use of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) funds revealed that out of 16 submitted projects, six were located in Lagos state, (but) Lagos (only) had two registered projects, the other four projects were rejected, with terminated validation or were negative.

“Of all the registered projects only one was a landfill gas project for Ikorodu (Lagos) composting facility which was a waste to energy project. How come only two out of six projects located in Lagos were registered? Why did other highly populated states with waste management challenges not develop CDM waste management projects?” said Akachukwu.

During the immediate past administration of Governor Babatunde Fashola, waste-to-energy project was the most widely publicised of the waste resourcing schemes but only one waste resource centre was upgraded with power generating facilities. In 2012 a waste-to-energy pilot project was launched at Ikosi market in Ketu, Lagos, as methane extracted from rotting fruits was used to generate electricity, according to a Reuters’ report.

The then managing director of LAWMA, Mr Ola Oresanya, was upbeat about the prospect of consolidating on the success.

“Oresanya aims to complete the project in around five years, by which time it will have a 25 megawatt (mw) capacity,” the report added. This is not the story anymore.

There is no waste resource centre in Lagos that is generating electricity at the moment, a source in the Lagos state Ministry of Environment exclusively disclosed this to BusinessHallmark.

“I was part of the team that went to install the Ikosi plant, but it’s no longer working.”

The source also confirmed that majority of the waste resource projects didn’t see the “light of the day” – as some were abandoned, others failed to prove turnkey upon their completion.

Lagos could have gotten more projects registered if the state government had been serious in developing efficient landfill gas (LFG) projects in partnership with parties to the Kyoto protocol that are eligible to sponsor those projects, hinted Mr Akachukwu.

Responding to the question of why the Lagos state government has not thus far exploited the ever present electricity potential in MSW, Akachukwu raised the recurrent issues of leadership decadence in failing to come up with knowledgeable environmental policies, and institutional failures.

“The key answers are: first, lack of right policies – leaders and policymakers do not have adequate knowledge on the potential in waste management which could lead to policy enforcement, revising regulations and formulation of new ones, if necessary; and lack of institutional capacity to effectively engage with international mechanisms on sound environmental management. There is also wrong sociocultural interpretations and understanding of waste and waste management,” he said.

Centre for Public Policy Alternatives (CPPA), a think-tank based in Lagos, furthered the arguments of Mr Akachukwu in a recent research report on the economic potential of Lagos overall landfills, as well placing the emphasis on waste-to-energy facilities for power generation.

But first, the report noted that proper waste management is a challenge the state government is still trying to solve.

“While the state has a fairly organized system for collecting and disposing MSW, waste collection agencies are yet to provide complete statewide coverage as random unauthorised dumpsites can still be found across the state.”

According to CPPA, in a day it is estimated that Lagos generates 10,000 metric tonnes of MSW, also in the same day the state demands 2,000 – 3,000 megawatts (mw) of electricity, which it barely gets. Through robust and efficient waste-to-energy facilities, it can generate an estimated 10 percent of its daily electricity demand and, in turn, make millions of naira off it.

Essentially, in this context, Lagos cannot continue to waste its waste – as it can be converted into its dire need.

“Revenue accruing from the sale of electricity generated from waste-to-energy facilities is a major benefit. One tonne of MSW can generate a net of 500-600kWh of electricity. Assuming this was supplied to residential consumers with a three phase supply (R2T category of consumer), at N28.39 per kWh, Eko electricity distribution company could potentially generate from 141.95 to 170.34 million naira from Lagos’s 10,000 tonnes of MSW per day.

“WTE plants have an overall availability of 330 24-hr days per year. On a daily basis, annual volume of MSW processed would be 3000*330 = 990,000 tonnes per annum. At $650 per annual ton, construction cost = $650*990,000 = $643.5 million. 594GWh would generate N16.86 billion. At N306 to $1, this is equivalent to $55.11 million.”

There is no getting around innovative action for the Lagos state government in the long run over proper waste management. After municipal waste had undergone anaerobic decomposition methane is inevitably created in a landfill, which is commonly called landfill gas – LFG. “Methane (LFG) is a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than the carbon dioxide emitted by burning it,” says journalist Tim Cocks.

Landfill gas, if it migrates into the atmosphere, can trap heat in it for a longer time than carbon dioxide, compounding the problem of global warming thereby. Environmentalists recognize that turning LFG into electrical power is preferable to releasing it into the air. It can be captured, converted and used as a clean renewable source of energy that can offset fossil fuel.

“Doing nothing with landfill gas can cause gas migration off-site and can cause explosions. The release of the methane creates global warming problems and the release of the toxic contaminants can cause cancer and other health problems in local communities,” one blogger wrote.

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