Seville is a Spanish city located in the south of the country. And, it’s also the city with the highest number of orange trees, i.e. more than 45K.
And, there are so many oranges that despite the residents’ appetite, tons of these fruits end up being thrown away.
But, thanks to the city, they’ll no longer be discarded, but used for a very efficient thing-to produce electricity.
Although it’s still a pilot program, it’s promising to be expanded further.
Why Does Seville Have so many Oranges?
Originating from Asia, oranges were introduced to Spain some thousand years ago. Seville alone has around 15,000 tons of oranges on a yearly basis.
Still, people aren’t eating them enough. So, they export them mostly to the UK where they’re commonly used for marmalade making.
And, this fruit is also a common ingredient in Grand Marnier and Cointreau.
In the 70s, Seville had around 5000 orange trees; however, since then, the numbers have risen, mostly because it was a fruit associated with happiness and people began planting it the streets.
The flower known as Azahar which blossoms from this tree has been linked with some health benefits and it’s also used in perfumes and essential oils.
Arabs then had the intention to make Seville the leading perfume maker in the world.
With trees everywhere, surplus fruit soon became an issue for the City Hall.
Namely, when they fall to the ground, oranges are mashed under the cars’ wheels and the streets go sticky with juice and there are a lot of flies.
Believe it or not, the city has more than 200 employees working to collect the fruit from their streets.
Seville Is Striving towards a Better, more Eco-Friendly Solution
But, instead of just collecting and discarding them, the city is considering reuse.
Namely, the pilot program done together with Emasema (a municipal water company) will use 35 tons of this fruit as power for a water purification plant.
The oranges are put in a facility that already makes electricity from organic matter. When they ferment, the methane drives the generator and makes electricity.
According to the head of residual waters at Emasema, Enrique Vaquerizo, this is an innovative experience of the circular economy and they’re making use of organic matter.
Their goal is to recycle all of the discarded oranges the city has.
This pilot program is focused on transforming a plant which consumed high energy and will now produce it.
For every ton of orange, around 500 liters of juice and 500 kilos of peel are necessary.
The government’s plan is to generate 1500 KWh; this is sufficient electricity to power 150 households.
What Are the Plans If the Pilot Proves Successful?
If this pilot turns out to be a success, their further plans are for the plant to use 1700 tons of oranges that will provide power for 73000 houses.
The Mayor of Seville, Juan Espadas, notes that this program will also help reduce the greenhouse emissions of the city and also allow the water plant to produce energy and use, rather than throw away, their surplus produce.