Roatan May Soon Convert Waste to Energy

Plastics (including bags) make up the vast majority of refuse in the Bay Islands. In the future, this plastic waste may be where Roatan’s electricity comes from.

According to the Director of Operations of the Roatan Electric Company, (RECO), Mathew Harper, a letter of intent was presented to both Roatan municipalities on November 10th, 2011 by Synergy Renewables for the building of an initial five megawatt waste to energy power plant, with the option to change over to ten megawatts if the refuse collection remains constant.

Currently, Roatan collects between 60 and 100 tons of refuse per day.

“The technology, in a nutshell, utilizes high temperatures to heat presorted refuse to produce synthetic gas (syngas) which will power a simple steam turbine to generate electricity. Synergy is a company with a track record in the region, having built two similar projects (20 MW total) in Puerto Rico, which interestingly enough, uses refuse offloaded from cruise ships to augment the fuel supply,” stated Harper.

Synergy Renewables has their own financing to build and install the project within nine months, at a cost of approximately thirty-five million dollars. This would be from the time that all necessary permitting from local and federal authorities is acquired. Initial meetings with city councilors, and both mayors have been met with enthusiasm. Waste management services account for twenty percent of municipal budgets, and so the project would be a win-win for the municipalities and the synergy plant. It would also be a big win for RECO customers, who will notice a reduction in their power bill after this plant and the wind farm come online.

Roatan’s power matrix at present is 100% diesel. If the plan is put into action, it could be as early as 2013 that the island’s generating capacity is forty percent renewable.


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