Urban commercial biogas power plant model for Zambian towns

Highlights

Use of MSW in biogas based power plants in Zambian towns would be feasible.

Biogas-based power yields environmental, socio-economical and health benefits.

A 1 MW plant would have a positive NPV between 18 and 28% interest rates.

A 1 MW biogas based power plant would pay back the investment in 2 years.

Abstract

The prospect of producing biogas from municipal solid waste (MSW) is high in urban towns of Zambia. However, the feasibility of establishing biogas-based power plants needs to be assessed in relation to the existing potentials, barriers and prospects. Technical potentials though available in urban towns, need to be modeled with a business view. The paper presents such an assessment of potential benefits and suggests ways to overcome barriers such as financing, regulatory framework, incentives and lack of information and data. Once the barriers are overcome, biogas-based power plants could be established in urban towns. These aspects are illustrated through a real case study of Kitwe town, which has the potential to install a 1.164 MW power plant. A simple payback period (PBP) calculation indicates that the power plant would have a 2 years payback period and the Net Present Values (NPV) at 18% interest base rate would be 2,515,000 € and after performing a sensitivity analysis, the project becomes unviable at 28% interest rate (−250 €). Other benefits that would come as a result of a biogas-based power plant in Kitwe are: 2.308 Gg CO2eq y−1 avoided greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, 1.235 Gg y−1 nitrogen would be conserved and 920 t y−1 of organic fertilizer would be produced.

Keywords

  • Municipal solid waste;
  • Biogas model;
  • Environmental, health, sanitation, social and economic benefits;
  • Urban towns;
  • Zambia

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