A Perfect Match: Advanced Conversion Technologies & Island Communities

Islands are microcosms of larger energy systems; they face both resource and waste management challenges. The unique geographical circumstances of islands in terms of size and isolation bring the immediacy of these challenges into sharp focus.  This highlights the economic and environmental imperatives for clean technologies, creating a level of demand and appetite for installing the latest technologies.  This presents the opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of proven Advanced Conversion Technologies (ACTs), which address the duel challenge of expensive and depleting fossil fuel resources and rising waste streams. Advanced Plasma Power, for example, is involved in projects in the Caribbean where these problems are particularly acute and where badly managed landfill sites frequently catch fire.

Small islands, often situated in remote locations exposed to increasing extreme weather and climate change, are ideally situated to harness many of the earth’s natural resources. The appetite for renewable energy in island nations is growing rapidly, for example Richard Branson launched the Virgin Unite project – the Ten Island Renewable Energy Challenge – to encourage the Caribbean islands to flip from fossil fuels to renewables.  Other islands are also working to develop newer forms of renewable energy. Islenet, for example, is a network of European island communities which are deploying small scale renewable energy projects, which if successful, could then lead to mass deployment elsewhere.

By their very definition, islands are isolated and they often depend on imports and the global economy to supplement their limited reserves of resources. They are suffering from the same challenges that face the rest of the world but are felt more acutely. This highlights the need for energy security as well as sustainable waste management; they do not have the space to put waste out of sight and out of mind in ever growing landfills.

Island nations are also notorious holiday destinations and it is therefore imperative for these communities to preserve the beauty and environmental integrity of their surroundings as their livelihoods depend on tourism.  Mounds of rubbish in landfills are a serious environmental problem in many island communities where landfills are now exceeding capacity and causing environmental and visual pollution.

Technologies such as Advanced Plasma Power’s Gasplasma® waste to energy solution can contribute towards self-sufficiency in power generation whilst also providing a sustainable means for managing historic and new waste streams.

By looking ‘beyond waste,’ there is further opportunity, innovation and environmental benefit in recovering energy from what might previously have been seen as a residual waste destined for landfill. Rather than treating waste as a problem to be disposed of, and relying on rapidly-depleting sources of fossil fuels to meet our mounting energy needs, it is becoming more economically viable to put our finite resources back into the system and ‘close the loop’.

The Gasplasma® process uses an innovative combination of two well-established technologies (gasification and plasma conversion technology) in a new, unique configuration to convert residual, municipal and commercial waste into a clean, hydrogen-rich synthesis gas (syngas) and a solid, vitrified product (Plasmarok®) each with multiple high value applications. Furthermore, the process is very efficient, deriving maximum value from waste, and has a low visual and environmental impact, which makes it an ideal waste-management solution for island communities.

ACTs provide a local solution to a global problem and because technologies like Gasplasma® are scalable, they are ideal for small islands.  Gasplasma® enables island communities to turn waste streams into a valuable new resource, providing communities with energy and a sustainable waste management solution.

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