Converting trash into cash

Zarish Fatima

One day all the worlds energy will be generated by renewable energy sources (like the sun, wind, water, and biofuels) rather than the fossil fuels (oil, coal, and gas). Fossil fuels are considered as the conventional energy sources for over a hundred years, but these resources are finite while the global energy requirements are infinite.

Thus, we need an alternate source for a sustainable provision of energy in the future. Renewable energy can be used in many areas like; production of electricity, air/water heating/cooling, transportation and urban/rural energy production.

In Pakistan, the majority of the functional power generation projects and the new projects under the umbrella of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) are fossil fuel driven posing a major threat to the environment and causing climatic changes leading to detrimental floods and excessive heat waves across the country.

The government has allocated almost $33 Billion in investments through the year 2022, solely for electricity generation via CPEC. But 60% of the produced energy is coming from fossil fuel-based generations. Subsidizing money to such projects is another strain to the economy as it involves the import of coal from other countries. Pakistan is an agricultural country. Agriculture serves as the largest contributor to the economy and generates 43 million tons of agricultural waste every year. It can be collected and utilized to produce Biofuel and Biogas.

Biofuels are renewable liquid fuels produced from solid biomass. Biomass is any organic matter derived from animal, plant or waste including agricultural crops, wood, fodder, municipal organic waste, and manure. While biogas is a gas produced from agricultural waste.

Currently, there is no proper Biogas/Biofuel model which is functional. There is an urgent need to allocate a budget for it and encourage farmers and rural population to set up mini biofuel plants. The types of waste produced in the rural areas are field wastes, animal wastes, and agro-industrial waste. If properly managed, it can result in the generation of precious sustainable energy. But instead, it all ends up polluting the air, ground, and water by giving out methane. Methane gas has a warming potential that is significantly 30 times higher than carbon dioxide.

Moreover, Pakistan is the world’s 6th largest populated country which produces almost 30 million tons of solid waste every year which is not recycled nor used for any purposes. Even this waste can be incinerated directly or treated to produce energy and biogas. As the country’s biggest challenge lies with combating the excessive garbage, any initiative will help to resolve this issue too.

I would like to request the newly formed government to adopt a new biofuel/biogas model, make a new policy and start allocating money for it instead of funding fossil fuel projects.

The model will have the potential to utilize almost all the agricultural and domestic waste which contributes to increase in climate by producing Green House Gases like methane (which can be collected to be used as a biogas). Appropriate initiation of training of the rural population can result in the successful production of biofuels. The pumps can be installed next to the farms.

Countries in Europe are now using biofuels in their cars, trains, jets and public transport, and the percentage of usage of green energy is increasing every year. According to a policy. Finland aims to have 20% renewables in transport by 2020, using mainly advanced biofuels feedstocks.

As plenty of agricultural waste is not utilized in Pakistan and goes to waste, there won’t be any need to cultivate new crops to produce green energy. In fact, Pakistan should use their agricultural strength to explore new opportunities and innovations in this sector.

The production and use of biofuels will not only reduce the oil and coal imports and usage but also contribute to the green environment and rural employment opportunities. It will transform their lives, generating hefty incomes and benefit the overall economy of the country making it self-sufficient one day.

Using both agricultural and domestic waste for energy and fuel production will be beneficial to the government but will solve many problems of the masses related to it like the spread of diseases, pollution and climate change.

But one should always remember that Energy shortfalls do not arise from a lack of energy, but from our high levels of energy consumption. Everyone can help solve the problem by trying to consume less and support the transition to an all-natural lifestyle which is more modest and minimalist.

The best way to get precious renewables to meet the energy needs is to simply consume less. The government should implement policies to encourage companies and masses to cut energy usage and switch to sustainable sources.



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