The Spanish city of Seville is famous for its oranges. Unfortunately, a large part of the bountiful crop goes to waste every year. Unpicked oranges fall and rot in piles along the city streets, causing headaches and safety concerns.

The problem gets so bad, the city even employs a team of 200 people to clean up the rotting citrus fruits each year.

Now, however, there may be a more economical solution than piling the mush into landfills. Emasesa, the city’s municipal water company, plans to use the rotting fruit to power one of their water purification plants. Rotting oranges produce a lot of methane, which can be used to power the facility.

As reported in the Guardian:

“While the aim for now is to use the energy to run the water purification plants, the eventual plan is to put surplus electricity back into the grid. The team behind the project argues that, given the vast quantity of fruit that would otherwise go into landfill or be used as fertiliser, the potential is huge. They say trials have shown that 1,000kg will produce 50kWh, enough to provide electricity to five homes for one day, and calculate that if all the city’s oranges were recycled and the energy put back into the grid, 73,000 homes could be powered.”

Benigno Lopez, a representative for Emasesa, said that to recycle all of the city’s unused oranges, it would cost about 250,000 Euro to be invested by the city of Seville.

Lopez was quoted in the Guardian as saying: “‘The juice is fructose made up of very short carbon chains and the energetic performance of these carbon chains during the fermentation process is very high,’ he said. ‘It’s not just about saving money. The oranges are a problem for the city and we’re producing added value from waste.’”

Will this orange-based energy plan pay off? Or will this just be a vitamin-C-infused boondoggle? Only time will tell.

To read the whole story in the Guardian click here.


  • Adam Houser

    Adam Houser coordinates student leaders as National Director of CFACT's collegians program and writes on issues of climate and energy.