Considering it has been nearly 37 years since its first introduction to Ethiopia. The usage of bio gas is not very popular and few people are aware of the benefits of such fuels. According to a survey by the Horn of Africa Regional Environment Center/Network we have about 120 bio gas systems installed in institutions all over Ethiopia.
This being said, there are few highly-motivated residents of Addis who use bio gas for household consumption. These are residents like Mrs. Sirgut who used a bio gas digester for nearly 20 years. Mrs. Sirgut says when her father constructed the bio gas digester he was guaranteed a 14 years life span, now it has nearly completed its 20 years. When using bio gas she says the key is maintenance. Frequent attention to the well-functioning of the digester is the key to increased life expectancy. Considering the advantages, it’s a little sacrifice to be made.
Such sustainable living reduces the pressure we put on our environment and saves us money. For example, reduced waste output means clean environment; while lesser kerosene and fire wood consumption rate reduces destruction of our forests that are the lungs of our highly polluted city. Consequently, the taxpayers’ money that goes into cleaning up our streets and importing and subsidizing oil can be used to provide for other basic infrastructure we lack.
The Merits of using biogas are broad:
- It’s a very low emission and renewable source of energy that makes it a tool for active climate protection;
- It is produced locally to reduce import dependency;
- Steady inputs of waste or other feedstock for the biogas plant can be maintained all year round to provide stable energy system;
- Versatility of application of biogas ranges from running car engines to house hold consumption of lighting, heating, cooking. Even the sludge that comes out of the digester after production can be dried up and used as a fertilizer. The amount of biogas that is required to provide for a 60W candle lamp is 0.13m3 per hour.
- It also improves the overall sanitation and hygiene conditions and reduces our dependence on the grid which is also helpful in reducing the blackouts from overload.
In 2008 the national biogas program was launched to construct 14,000 biogas plants by 2013. This project introduces biogas as an alternative in rural areas to cover the rural energy demands where the grid cover is non-existent. Looking at the households who already benefit from the program you can see that there have been positive lifestyle changes to the households that received the upgrade.
Initiatives are taken by various NGOs all over Ethiopia in promoting this technique, but there is still insufficient information as to how many people privately use it and own a biogas digester, even though it’s a technique we should use more frequent.
We can build a biogas plant in our own backyards or a communal one within our Kebeles. As there are various types and sizes of biogas plants, before construction, we have to choose a specific type and size that are suited to the nature of our consumption. Bio gas plants are not considered cheap to construct at first (a 6m3 fixed dome digester costs up to 11,000 birr) but there are also a cheaper more temporary ways of constructing too.
Portable biogas digester half buried for small scale house hold consumption.
So why not make one in our backyards, within our condominium communities, or Kebele the more centralized it is the better in sharing the costs and more waste to produce fuel sufficiently. Here are some links to guide you through the construction and production process.
- http://www.industrialgasplants.com/biogas-plant.html – Elaborates on the different types of biogas plants
- Building biogas in rural china: http://www.drylandfarming.org/FB/Biogas4.html
- YouTube video of a biogas production process: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=but5ntRMQQc&feature=player_detailpage