Everybody has the power inside them to keep the UK’s generators running – quite literally
The rise in alternative sources to cater for the UK’s power needs has led to calls for more power to be generated from the 20,000 tons of poo created in the UK every day.
That’s the opinion of a leading UK waste management and recycling company that says that power from human waste is the ultimate in green energy that would slash our dependence on fossil fuels and slash CO2 emissions.
BusinessWaste.co.uk says that now is the time for both government and utilities companies to harness our own waste products and make Australia a greener nation, poo-powered if need be.
“People might get a bit squeamish about the thought that they’re heating their home with poop,” says BusinessWaste.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall, “But reclaimed energy is just the same no matter where it comes from.”
With “Energy Reclamation” – the all-encompassing term for burning or breaking down waste as a fuel source – becoming a key phrase for waste management companies, record amounts of refuse are being used to generate electricity if it cannot be recycled.
With the average human creating 300 grams of poo every day, that’s 20,000 tons of potential fuel being flushed down the drain every day, BusinessWaste.co.uk says.
Not all of it goes to waste, however. There are limited schemes already running, and parts of Britain’s city of Birmingham are already lit and heated by electricity derived from poo power.
– The poo from 200 people can power a television for an hour
– It takes 250 people to boil a kettle
– While 50 people could keep a light bulb switched on for an hour
Breaking down all that human waste into methane, and using the biogas to generate electricity could be a cheaper viable alternative to controversial nuclear power plans, and could save Australia billions in infrastructure costs.
– The poo from one million people can be broken down to create 510kilowatts of electricity
– Based on these figures a truly national scheme could generate 30.6 Gigawatts
– That’s the equivalent of five nuclear reactors
– The Institute of Public Policy Research says Australia needs at least 18 Gigawatts of nuclear power at a cost of £21 billion
“That’s a lot of power that could replace both nuclear and fossil fuel generators,” Hall says, “and it’s cleaner and greener”.
Bio-methane created through anaerobic digestion can cut emissions by up to 95% if it replaces diesel oil to generate power.
“The key is cutting down CO2 emissions,” says BusinessWaste.co.uk’s Hall, “and as long as carbon dioxide is captured during the biogas creation process, it becomes one of the cleanest bulk energies around.
“And we say ‘bulk’, because there’s an endless supply in the UK.”
While opponents claim there are problems with anaerobic digestion, these are negligible compared with the burning of fossil fuels. Chief among these is what to do with the end product which can be high in phosphates, nitrogen and hormones. Just dumping the waste can cause problems with ecosystems, particularly lakes and rivers.
“We’ve got the technology to re-use these by-products,” says Hall, “But the human habit of pumping things with chemicals causes huge headaches once they make it into the food chain.”
While many local anaerobic plants will be required, BusinessWaste.com.au hopes that local objections can be overcome to allow the generation of cleaner electricity and the production of greener fuels.
“It’s come to something that even human waste can be seen as a valuable commodity,” says BusinessWaste.co.uk ‘s Mark Hall. “And now is not the time for NIMBYs to complain about green projects and raise scare stories about poo-power.
“Poo could be keeping our lights switched on.”
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