The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has committed €5.8 million for the construction of a 400 kW Hybrid Waste-to-Energy (WTE) power plant that will produce electricity from waste produced in the country. The plant will be sited at Atwima Nwabiagya in the Ashanti Region.
As part of the country’s Renewable Energy Plan, incorporated into the 31 Nationally Determined Contributions, the project is intended to “transform waste into energy using hybrid solar photovoltaic, biogas, and pyrolysis systems,” said Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Ghana’s Minister for Environment Science and Technology and Innovation.
It is expected to help the country find a longstanding solution to the challenge of its solid waste management by treating waste and generating power from it. “This is an environmental and sanitation project, which would help us clean our environment and generate energy that would comprise solar, biogas, and pyrolysis gas,” he added. Pyrolysis is a thermo-chemical process that results in the production of gas from waste, which can then be used to generate electricity.
Aside from generating gas for electricity which would increase the inclusion of renewable energy and contribute to reducing climate change, the project will also produce and use compost, to be sold to and utilized by farmers to boost agriculture, hence reducing reliance on mineral fertilizers.
The project, which will be commissioned in September 2023, is research-based and is to be undertaken collaboratively by three German research partners, six Ghanaian research centers, and two German and three local industrial partners respectively.
Anja Karliczek, the German Federal Minister of Education and Research, said the project is a great opportunity to utilize Ghana’s 12,000 tonnes of daily waste output while creating employment.
With innovative solutions fashioned by German researchers, collaborating with fellows in Ghana, the project’s success is assured. If successful, ten more plants of up to 5MW power output will be constructed by 2040 in separate regions of the country, she said.
The pilot plant will be built and operated within the four-year life span of the project, noted Professor Frimpong-Boateng. As part of the project, a policy guideline document on the hybrid waste-to-energy system and business models for hybrid solar PV, biogas, and pyrolysis plants would be advanced.
According to reports, the project will train two post-PhD fellows, three Ph.D. fellows, ten master’s students, and 20 university professionals on hybrid biogas pyrolysis systems for waste treatment, to enable them to lead and mentor other African countries in the design, construction, and maintenance of biogas/biomass plants.
Pyrolysis and processes associated with the waste-t-energy technology are said to give off by-products such as biochar and digestate which can enhance agricultural activities in farming communities, while related activities are expected to bring sustainable jobs for Ghanaians.
Meanwhile, using bioenergy for electricity generation instead of fossil fuel would contribute to decreasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, stressed Prof Frimpong-Boateng.