According to a report by the National Solid Wastes Management Association, or NSWMA, the average American household generates 4.4 pounds of garbage every day, and about 1600 pounds per year. Doesn’t it all seem like a huge waste? No pun intended, but can’t we put our garbage to use to generate clean energy?
Waste Management is currently developing a system to convert sewage and raw garbage into clean energy, and at the same time help to alleviate the strain excessive amounts of garbage has had on landfills.
Currently Waste Management is re-using garbage to generate enough power to supply one-million homes, and will soon have enough to power two-million a year.
Solar Hydro Energy Corporation is developing a process that helps to convert methane from landfills into hydrogen. Other companies are experimenting with the use of plasma to break down compounds into harmless elements that can be used for power.
As fascinating as these approaches are, I think the most realistic and appealing approach would be to have home units which can break down waste and convert it into power. Imagine having your own trash-compactor that can also double as a power-generator.
You wouldn’t have to buy power from the grid, and you would help the environment as well. It would take a while for these devices to reach an affordable price where many people can have access to them, but it would be worth the wait. Imagine never having to pay a power bill again… I’m sure that’s something you’d look forward to.
But don’t expect the energy giants to roll over, they might fight tooth-and-nail like the oil industry to keep their stranglehold on the economy. They wouldn’t want to go out of business, so it would be either adapt or die for them at that point. They could help design, develop, and produce these waste-energy generators, or fizzle out and disappear.
I mean it’s not a doom-and-gloom scenario (click here for a real one), but merely reality. Adapting to a changing energy market, defined by the long-tail effect, will be the defining transformation that will make-or-break energy giants.