Seville, Spain is the birthplace of flamenco dance, preserver of bullfighting, and home to 50,000 bitter orange trees. Introduced by the Moors over 1,000 years ago, the trees have flourished in the Mediterranean climate and are considered one of the world’s largest orange groves.
While the fruit looks beautiful on the trees, the bitter flesh cannot be eaten fresh. Some of it is exported to Britain for marmalade, but the rest falls onto the streets, creating a sticky mess and a sanitation hazard for everyone.
But now local officials plan to turn the unwanted citrus surplus into fuel.
Europe is the global leader in biogas technology which can use waste from meats, grains, and vegetables to produce electricity. For the city of Seville, the bacteria they use to produce methane are attracted to the juice of the oranges, so it’s a perfect fit.
Their pilot program will ferment 35 tons of oranges, using the captured methane gas to drive the generator at a water purification plant. The leftover pulp and peels will be composted to regenerate the soil in local fields.
The power company hopes to eventually recycle all the leftover oranges while turning their city’s waste problem into a valuable solution for everyone.
The water company’s four plants are presently 70% powered by renewable energy, but the plan is to reach 100% renewable power through the orange project. And their plan is to pump the surplus electricity right back into the grid.
Officials estimate that if all the city’s oranges were recycled and put back into the grid, they could power 73,000 homes, turning the city of Seville’s orange problem into a great green solution.
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