From Waste to Watts
By: Erik Gabaldon
Recently the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved New York-headquartered Energy Answers International Inc an air permit that will potentially enable the construction and operation of a 77-megawatt “Resource recovery” alternative power plant in the northwest municipality Arecibo--converting the country’s waste into a soluble and efficient form of energy.
Pending permits will determine the fate of the $650 million facility, with a projected completion in three years. The facility is expected to generate power to more than 76,000 residencies a day and an approximation of 3,800 jobs to be created.
Since sanitation and landfills have become a federal issue in Puerto Rico, the island has succumbed to an overwhelming magnitude of garbage, producing over 10,000 tons a day. The utilization of waste will reduce over-flowing landfills and hopefully make room on the island for waste that cannot be salvaged for the reusable integrated waste facility. If the plant is a success, an estimated 2,100 tons of garbage a day will be converted.
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This is the first time Puerto Rico has ever received this kind of a permit for this kind of a plant. Residents of Arecibo and of the island that opposed the EPA’s decision were in fear that the project would contaminate the island--this resulted in an elongated protest, lasting two years in an attempt to arrest the development of the project. After a long battle, the Justice Department of Puerto Rico decided to repeal the agreement with Energy Answers International Inc, however, the company’s lawyers are in litigation to revoke the repeal.
It has not been the first or the last time US conglomerates and corporations have capitalized and monopolized the resources and opportunistic appendages the Puerto Ricans have to offer, nor will it be the last time US companies will pillage the soil of the small, tourist cash-pit.
Toyota unveils electric van and Volvo opens fuel cell lab
Toyota is launching its first zero emission battery electric vehicle, the Proace Electric medium-duty panel van, across Europe.
The model, which offers a choice of 50 or 75kWh lithium-ion batteries with range of up to 205 miles, is being rolled out in the UK, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden.
At present, alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs, including battery electric vehicles) account for only a fraction – around 1.8 per cent – of new light commercial van sales in the UK, but a number of factors are accelerating demand for practical alternatives to vans with conventional internal combustion engines.
Low and zero emission zones are coming into force to reduce local pollution and improve air quality in urban centres, at the same time as rapid growth in ecommerce is generating more day-to-day delivery traffic.
Meanwhile the opening of Volvo's first dedicated fuel cell test lab in Volvo Group, marks a significant milestone in the manufacturer’s ambition to be fossil-free by 2040.
Fuel cells work by combining hydrogen with oxygen, with the resulting chemical reaction producing electricity. The process is completely emission-free, with water vapour being the only by-product.
Toni Hagelberg, Head of Sustainable Power at Volvo CE, says fuel cell technology is a key enabler of sustainable solutions for heavier construction machines, and this investment provides another vital tool in its work to reach targets.
"The lab will also serve Volvo Group globally, as it’s the first to offer this kind of advanced testing," he said.
The Fuel Cell Test Lab is a demonstration of the same dedication to hydrogen fuel cell technology, as the recent launch of cell centric, a joint venture by Volvo Group and Daimler Truck to accelerate the development, production and commercialization of fuel cell solutions within long-haul trucking and beyond. Both form a key part of the Group’s overall ambition to be 100% fossil free by 2040.