Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Energy from 'evil': Water hyacinth can solve black outs' problem

The Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI), a local think tank, has said Water hyacinth energy remains one of the best solutions to Malawi's perennial black outs, bemoaning, however, reluctance by sole electricity supplier, the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) to contribute funding towards the initiative.
IPI Executive Director, Rafiq Hajat, said a survey carried out in 2004, revealed that Water hyacinth could produce 10 mega waltz a month,an energy resource he said could help many people move out of poverty.
"We have a lot of fishermen along our rivers who have nothing to catch because fish stocks have dwindled; these people could become producers of this sort of energy and develop their lives. Water hyacinth is being abused at the moment because people just cut it and throw it away, yet is is a very good source of energy," said Hajat.
He said, however, that he was disappointed because Escom failed to supports the efforts to turn Water hyacinth from a mere weed to money spinner.
Malawi remains one of the Southern African Development Community(Sadc) member states whose citizens lack access to electricity. The statistics indicate that, at the moment, only 6 per cent of Malawians have access to electricity.
Even the six per cent are bombarded with, often, unplanned black outs, plunging some industry players into huge losses.
The 94 per cent left in the dark then take to the forests in search of wood for charcoal burning, an industry reported to generate K5.7 billion annually.
Hajat says, once this group is trained in turning the naughty wood into an energy source, Malawi could as well declare an end to wanton cutting down of trees as well as perpetual darkness for many of the people in search of light.
Escom Public Relations Manager, Kitty Chinseu, asked for a questionnaire, when contacted about the issue. It has since been prepared and submitted.


SteveK said...

This is a great approach. The only way to control water hyacinth is to make a profit on its harvest. It can be briquetted and used directly for fuel in low pollution "rocket stoves" that produce charcoal as a byproduct. It can be brewed into ethanol, digested into methane, or charred and gasified into SynGas. It can be composted and made into soil conditioner. Clear it, and the fish will again thrive, and support fishermen.

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