Series three, episode two
Micro turbines electrify rural Kenya; turning 'end-of-life' plastic into fuel; and reviving a wasteland in Indonesia.
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2012 09:52

In Kenya the national grid reaches just 18 per cent of its population, which means an estimated 30m people are forced to use environmentally damaging and expensive alternatives like kerosene, diesel and dry cell batteries. A local company, Access Energy, has developed a micro wind turbine made using scrap, which can charge a phone and power a lightbulb – enough for most people’s needs. Russell Beard joins Access Energy in Kisumu, Western Kenya, and learns to build a turbine.

We have produced more plastic in the last ten years than we did in the whole of the last century. Many of the plastic items we throw away can be recycled into new products – but some types, known as “end-of-life” plastics, currently have no second life and end up in landfill, where they can release hazardous chemicals into the environment. However, technology company Cynar is giving these plastics one more life by turning them into synthetic fuel at their plant in Portlaoise, Ireland. The end products are cleaner, lower in sulphur and in the case of the diesel, higher quality than regular diesel fuel. Cynar is currently able to produce 19,000 litres of fuel from 20 tonnes of waste plastic, and the company plans to set up more plants across the UK. Oliver Steeds travels to Ireland to find out how the process works.

Bangka Island in Indonesia has a long history of tin mining. Years of extraction have taken their toll on the land, leaving it acidic, cratered and unsuitable for agriculture. A group of businessmen who used to be involved in the mining industry are in the process of transforming 300 hectares of this ruined land, turning it into a lush botanical garden with fisheries, paddocks, fruit gardens and paddy fields. An estimated 2,000 species of flora and 200 of fauna are now living in the garden. Amanda Burrell reports.

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