Keywords: low-cost energy, eco-efficient, low-income economy, conventional energy sources, economies of scale, standing crop, Ghana, developing countries, economic growth, alternative energy, municipal solid waste, energy production
Evaluation of municipal solid wastes (MSW) for utilisation in energy production in developing countries
In countries such as Ghana, which are still undergoing restructuring in their economies, low-cost energy supplies are most vital for development initiatives and may not only be the main constraint to their economic growth, but a principal source of conflicts in this century. But whether a meaningful and sustainable economic growth would be achieved or not rests exclusively on the removal of these energy constraints either by way of substitution for increasingly expensive conventional energy sources or new discoveries of cheaper alternatives that would power their industries. Such alternative sources should not only be cheap with great capability of promoting viable economies of scale, but also should be eco-efficient. Today, the traditional energy sources such as hydroelectric power, wood fuel, and oils are increasingly less attractive with a grown knowledge of their effects on the natural environment. This paper discusses research experiences gathered during a study that was undertaken in Accra, Ghana, to explore the potential for utilising municipal solid waste (MSW) for energy generation in a low-income economy and at the same time, address worsening MSW problems in the major cities. The results show that MSW in a typical low-income country is wet with low calorific values between 14 MJ/kg and 20 MJ/kg and an average energy recovery efficiency of about 40%.