Colombia’s San Andres Island to Make Energy from Trash

The Colombian island of San Andres will begin turning solid waste into electrical power starting in September in what the country’s top energy official called Monday a “landmark” project for Colombia.

“Mountains of trash will be converted into electricity,” Mines and Energy Minister Mauricio Cardenas said in a message on the website Twitter, while on a visit to the island, population 80,000, off the coast of Nicaragua. “San Andres will be a pioneer.”

Demand for electricity in Colombia’s growing economy has rise 3.1% over the past 12 months. The Colombian government subsidizes three-quarters of the costs of power on San Andres island.

The minister said the trash-to-electricity project would not only reduce the country’s energy costs, but would begin to get rid of the growing piles of garbage on the island, which he said have become a “serious environmental problem.”

The process will involve putting nonrecyclable household trash from landfills into giant incinerators. The trash is then burned to heat a boiler, which spins a turbine that creates power.

European countries including Denmark and Germany have for years been using trash to create heat and power.