Biogas for a Cheap and Sustainable Energy Source

The Project Director presenting on the Bhutan Biogas Project
The Project Director presenting on the Bhutan Biogas Project

Thimphu: The Bhutan Biogas Project (BBP) has immensely benefited farmers in 17 Dzongkhags  by successfully installing 2,921 biogas plants till date reducing their daily workload and expenditure. The BBP  highlighted this in a media workshop held at Namgay Heritage Hotel on July 14.

In rural areas, firewood collection is one of the main concerns for farmers which is difficult, time consuming and risky for a sustainable environment. As such, biogas introduction have played an important role in enhancing farmers’ livelihood and environment.

The BBP funded by the Asian Development Bank was introduced in 2011 to provide a sustainable energy source for households with livestock and help them reduce their dependency on firewood and expensive fossil fuels. It costs between Nu. 36,000 to Nu. 48,500 to set up a biogas plant depending on the size which ranges from 4, 6,  8 and 10 cubic metres. The project has collaborated with the Bhutan Development Bank Ltd. who provides a loan of Nu. 20,000 to farmers for a biogas plant set up. Farmers can also avail of a subsidy of Nu 11,700 for every plant.

The Project Director, Dorji  Gyeltshen, shared that a household with biogas can save 2000 kgs of firewood, 2555.5 litres of kerosene, 164.25 kgs of liquefied petroleum gas, 1460 kilowatt of electricity and 5000 kpgs of carbon dioxide in a year. He added that biogas is also beneficial for human health, environment and agriculture farming.  At the moment, biogas in Bhutan is mainly used for cooking. In other countries, it is used for lighting and duel fuel engines as well.  According to the Project Director, ‘Bhutan may look into such uses of biogas usage in the future’.

The biogas user survey 2015 revealed that users were satisfied with biogas technology with no identification of disadvantages and was considered more  helpful by women. The farmers’  limited knowledge on biogas benefits, insufficient trained masons, high cost involved, inconsistent supply of biogas appliances amongst others are some of the project challenges. To support  this, the project is planning to continue with awareness activities, incorporate biogas as an integrated program, strengthen capacity building of extension officials and encourage the private sector. The project also has a plan to collaborate with the Farm Machinery Corporation Ltd. for production of biogas appliances and accessories in the future. “As of now they are being brought from Nepal ,’ said the Project Director.

For biogas sustainability, the project has trained 206 livestock extension officials who will act as supervisors and 447 masons out of which three are female. The project has a plan to install 3,630 no. of biogas plants upon its completion by the end of this year. This will help Bhutan to save more than Nu. 103 million.

-ICS

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