From waste to energy source! This EV charging station uses food waste for electricity generation

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Mumbai got the first electric vehicle charging station powered by organic waste in May this year.

This one-of-a-kind project was conceptualized, executed and commissioned by GPS Renewables, a leading bioenergy company, with support from the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) and AeroCare Clean Energy.

The station, the first of its kind, generates 220 units of electricity from food waste collected from nearby areas, mostly from bulk generators like hotels and offices. Restaurants, hotels, motels and small eateries in and around the region discharge wet organic waste from their operations which is used as raw material for the plant.

This waste is collected and brought to the site by green waste collection trucks appointed by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM). The power plant will also charge electric vehicles and power streetlights.

The capacity of the biogas plant is two tons of organic waste per day. To remain operational, it needs 1 to 2 tons of wet waste daily.

Green fuel alternative, green model

Talk to The Logical Indian, Rajesh Ayappassur, Director of Business Development and Partnerships at GPS Renewables, said that in the case of this electric vehicle charging station, diesel/gasoline is replaced by biogas, a green fuel alternative. The purified biogas is fed into a generator set designed to use the biogas as fuel, which in turn produces power. This renewable energy then becomes the input to the EV charging station, which provides renewable energy to charge electric vehicles.

“Generating electricity using biogas uses the same mechanism used in any power generator (Genset), where burning fossil fuels produces electricity. Traditionally, diesel or gasoline is used to power an electricity generator typically used as a backup power source in apartments, companies, offices and institutions,” said Rajesh.

While the correlation depends on several constraints and variables, on average and at 100% capacity utilization, the plant produces nearly 240 cubic meters of biogas in any given day, which can be used to fully fuel eight cars ( like Tata Nexon).

How EV-powered charging stations work

Moreover, it can be considered as the chain charger of charging stations. Compared to an average of four hours taken by others, this EV-powered charging station takes up to 45 effective minutes to charge a car to 100%.

“The inspiration behind this initiative is the very purpose of GPS Renewables as a company itself. That is, establishing 100% green (end-to-end) infrastructure and, in turn, driving widespread adoption of sustainable behavior,” Rajesh shared with The logical Indian.

As the electric mobility industry ushers in a new era of green transportation and its widespread implementation, the source still has a significant carbon footprint. The electricity used to power and recharge these electric vehicles is always of traditional origin; from the combustion of fossil fuels.

“More than half of India’s power generation today is pure and simple, from coal. Therefore, to make the EV an end-to-end green model, GPS decided to commission this prototype charging station in Haji Ali. We now plan to replicate this model in all electric vehicle charging stations in the country and will multiply the ecological impact of this renewable fuel called biogas,” explained Rajesh.

Generating value from waste

He added that just one of these biogas powered recharging stations is not only responsible for reducing GHG emissions to a large extent, but also helps to create value from waste so that there is no there is no leakage of waste into nature. Additionally, it facilitates a circular economy, ensuring that no waste ends up in the environment.

Encouraged by the welcome reception, GPS Renewables focused on strategies to scale this model of biogas-powered charging stations across regions and locations.

“For example, there are already more than 100 GPS BioUrja installed in India and around the world today. BioUrja is GPS’s flagship biogas technology that effectively captures energy from organic waste,” Rajesh said.

While we plan to install charging stations with this existing network of BioUrjas (depending on feasibility), GPS will now offer its BioUrja system in combination with the EV charging station. For this, we foresee a huge demand,” he shared with The Logical Indian in a conversation.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) now plans to set up an electric vehicle charging station fueled by organic waste in each of the 24 administrative districts.

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