Cuenca is the first city in Ecuador, and only the third in Latin America, to produce more than a megawatt of electricity using methane gas generated from garbage. The bioenergy generation plant, located at the city’s waste disposal facility in Santa Ana, provides electricity for 3,500 homes in the city.
Built with a grant from the government of the Netherlands, the facility was dedicated last Thursday and the city says it is making preparations to double its generation capacity by next near.
At the dedication ceremony, attended by Dutch Ambassador Wieba Jacob De Boer, Cuenca Mayor Marcelo Cabrera said that turning garbage into energy could eventually power tens of thousands of homes in the Cuenca area. “Besides electrifying our homes, the project also keeps pollutants out of the environment,” he said. “The benefit to air quality that this plant provides is the same as taking 15,000 motor vehicles off the roads.”
The methane gas that powers the plant is delivered by a series of pipes running beneath the landfill. According to plant manager David Gonzalez, the conversion furnaces require a constant flow of 410 m3 of biogas per hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “There is much more methane gas to be tapped in the landfill, so we will have no problem expanding electricity production as we upgrade the plant,” he says.
The facilities is connected with Ecuador’s nationwide power grid.