Biogas recovery, heat and electricity generation from effluents ponds in Honduras

Honduras Effluents Ponds
BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT

Extraction of palm oil is one of the most important economic activities in the Yoro region. The production of palm oil generates significant volumes of wastewater and requires substantial amounts of electricity and heat. According to Honduran environmental regulations, the wastewater has to be treated before it is discharged into waterways. In order to comply with national water standards, a system of anaerobic open lagoons is usually installed, as it is the lowest-cost treatment option for wastewater from palm oil mills. The anaerobic conditions in these lagoons (also known as palm oil mill effluent (POME) ponds) allow for the existence of anaerobic bacteria, which convert the organic matter contained in the effluent into biogas, including methane. These emissions are then released directly into the atmosphere. There is currently no legislation in Honduras that incentivizes the use of biogas for electricity or heat production and future legislation is unlikely. Thus, the common use of anaerobic open lagoons to treat wastewater from palm oil production results in the release of methane emissions, a major greenhouse gas contributing to global climate change.

The Hondupalma palm oil mill is located in the Yoro region of Honduras and is made up of 30 farmer cooperatives. The cooperative places a strong emphasis on sustainable and social development, providing ongoing financial support for a local hospital, school and infrastructure development. The mill includes six anaerobic open lagoons that are used to treat wastewater. The mill currently generates heat from a heavy fuel oil-powered boiler and a biodiesel powered boiler and receives its electricity from the national grid.

PROJECT OVERVIEW

The Hondupalma palm oil mill created a new company called Centaral de Empresas de Generacion de Energia Renovable Hondupalma (ERH), whose shareholders are the same oil palm cooperatives that form Hondupalma. ERH is improving the current wastewater treatment system by recovering and using the biogas for heat and electricity generation at the Hondupalma plant.

UNDP MDG Carbon supported the development of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project that involves the installation of two biodigesters and a biogas recovery system. The captured biogas from agricultural effluents will be used in a gas engine for the generation of electricity for the mill’s internal processes and in two boilers for the generation of heat. If the project is successful and there is enough biogas available, ERH is considering the installation of a second generator.

PROJECT IMPACT

The project helps to mitigate climate change and contributes to sustainable development by capturing and using the methane emissions to generate heat and electricity, reducing the plants’ reliance on fossil fuels for electricity production and displacing the use of heavy fuel oil for heating. The new, closed wastewater system also improves the quality of the wastewater, reduces the odours resulting from the decomposition of the waste, thereby improving local air quality, and creates several jobs during the plant construction and operation stages.

AT A GLANCE
Title
ERH – Biogas recovery, heat and electricity generation from effluents ponds in Honduras
Stage
Registered
Start Date of Project Activity
5 December 2012
Crediting Period
7 years
Estimated Emission Reductions over the crediting period
240,881 tonnes CO2e
Lead Partner
Energia Renovable Hondupalma (ERH)
UNFCCC Project 4406 web page >

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