Turning household-waste into alternative-energy just hit a huge bump in the road

I was rooting for Meta Corp and Ecogas like crazy. I so wanted this project to succeed. Turn the island’s household-waste into alternative-energy, it’s the right thing to do, and I was convinced it can be done in Aruba, at Ecogas.

But then I first heard stories about Ecogas shutting down, mid March. And recently a reader wrote: “Hi Rona, I enjoyed your article this morning, but I was told Ecogas cannot produce on spec gas for WEB, 300 ppm H2S vs <10 ppm, therefore Ecogas stopped working on it.”

The bad news became official when Bondia broke the story, May 2nd, and when I expressed my total disappointment fellow-journalist Dilma Geerman said: Yep… heartbreaking… but this shows there is no easy solution. Arubans need to become responsible for our own trash. No more the laziness of just piling up everything and just disregard… we need policy and guidance to separate and reduce! There has to a policy about packaging! There are countries that are successful in doing so. It takes discipline and commitment…and a government that understands that tough decisions are required! Can’t play the gracious uncle all the time…

She said it well, as a nation, we must learn to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, but I continued to poke around the story yesterday, questioning the trashing of the vision, what went wrong, it sounded so right!

The plant did indeed shut down. It required another monumental investment to solve the chemical challenge, the removal of some additional toxic substance from the gas produced. It was a valid point because the agreement with WEB specified it.

Ecogas was close, but not yet there. And from a business point of view the additional investment to fix this new challenge was not worth it. So the opted to shut down the gasification process.

The other part of the plant, sorting, compressing and baling, is still on, and I saw the green bales in the yard, awaiting their destiny. Exported to other countries for gasification purposes or buried here in a landfill. One of the people I spoke to suggested filling in the stone-quarries and gravel-pits that scar our landscape around Seroe Crystal and Canashito. Then landscape the top into a park.

Basically, as it stands right now, a 30 million florin investment is shut down. What’s next? WEB and Ecogas must negotiate solutions before the plant falls apart. Get a third party, a referee-mediator involved. This is an important issue and cannot just slip into oblivion.

Ecogas complied as far as flow, temperature and pressure of the gas it produced from household waste, it got very close, but did not quite make it. Perhaps a new investor can come along and get the ball rolling again. I hope. I have all fingers crossed.

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May 03, 2017
Rona Coster