Edible Energy

By Kendyl Brower 

Take a stroll through the streets of Seville, Spain and you will encounter more than 50,000 tangy, delightfully scented orange trees. An emblem of the city, Seville oranges pack a bitter punch so strong that many do not find them appetizing. Moreover, once the oranges hit the ground, the fruits are quite a hassle for the cleaning department of the city as well as local residents. With a massive orange surplus, scientists brilliantly created a new purpose for these generally unused crops: energy. 

The municipal water company Emasesa drafted a plan to transform orange juice into clean electricity. The process begins with the fermentation of oranges, in which the juice produces a gas rich in methane that creates energy, all without any additives. The pulp and skin become organic fertilizer, so nothing goes to waste. Thus, this orange energy “is environmentally controlled, closes the circular economy of urban waste” and “mitigates climate change by self sufficient energy” as Benigno Lopez, the head of Emasesa’s environmental department puts it. If all the city’s oranges were recycled in this process, the generated electricity could power over 73,000 homes. Furthermore, it is a cheap source of energy that reduces the issue of oranges crowding the city’s streets.

 Though the oranges only provide power for water purification plants, Emasesa is looking to expand the scope of this sustainable energy source. Seville acts as a role model for the world, turning leftovers into clean, sustainable energy to combat climate change, reduce waste, and power the city, all while saving money.