IDEAS Energy Contest: Waste banana ethanol

To use the waste generated by St Lucia’s banana trade to produce environmentally friendly energy.

Latin America and the Caribbean



A new power plant will use banana waste to produce methane via biodigesters. The methane will power the plant itself and also be used to produce ethanol.

This project is one of the award-winning projects of the 2009 IDEAS Energy Innovation Contest for improving energy efficiency and expanding access to renewable energy. The contest is jointly sponsored by GVEP International, GTZ, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Korean Government.

Full Description
Banana exportation is one of St Lucia’s largest industries and the island is home to three international banana companies. This project will use their waste to create power. This will not only be sold as ethanol to the transport industry, it will also be able to power the plant itself – making running costs very low.

It will use a new four-stage fermentation process that is much more productive and cost effective than traditional batch processes.

This project will enable local banana farmers to generate new income by selling their waste and by using biodigester waste as organic fertiliser.

The resulting crops will also have a higher market value than non-organic produce.

The factory will make money by selling ethanol to the transport industry and the wider environment will benefit from the resulting use of cleaner fuel.

Many Caribbean islands produce bananas and other sugar-rich crops. The processes and equipment needed to open further plants there will be the same – meaning the project could have far reaching benefits.

About the award winner:
Ken Aldonza is a Mechanical Engineer from St Lucia, West Indies. He pursued a Master’s Degree in Renewable Energy Systems Technology with Loughborough University in England. The Banana Ethanol project is based on his Master’s thesis.