Govt to build biogas plants commercially

With a view to bringing in a sustainable and low cost energy solution against the demand and also to popularise the approach as an alternative to pipeline gas, biogas plants on commercial basis will be set up across the country. In this regard, the state-owned sustainable and renewable energy development authority (SREDA) has already undertaken an initiative, and as per the plan they are currently doing the drafting works, according to a top official of the government organisation.

Biogas is a mixture of gasses, mainly of methane and carbon dioxide which result from anaerobic fermentation of organic matter by the action of bacteria. Two main raw materials of biogas are cow dung and hyacinth, which are available in almost all villages of Bangladesh. Not only is the gas available for cooking from these plants, but also can its remnants be used as organic fertiliser for crops and in ponds for fish feed.

The rural areas of Bangladesh are mostly off-grid from the main fuel source -- natural gas. As a result, the rural people use wood or dry plants to meet their fuel need, a practice that further contributes to deforestation and emission of green house gases. Siddique Zobair, additional secretary and member of SREDA, said biogas is being popular day by day in the rural areas. It has a bright prospect. However, there is no commercial biogas plant in Bangladesh right now but it is very essential to meet future energy demand.

“We are preparing a draft to build commercial biogas plants. We hope we can do it within two months. Then, we will submit it to the government,” he said. Zobair also said, “Our target is not only producing gas and using it for cooking, but also using it for electricity generation and as fuel for vehicle.” Biogas is a clean form of energy that has great potential to serve as an alternative to wood fuel. Biogas technology has been actively promoted in the country since early 1972s. It has the benefit of improving community health since it is clean and also helps in agricultural productivity by providing slurry manure.

The gas is produced by decomposing the garbage. It produces 55-65 per cent methane gas, 30-40 per cent carbon dioxide and a little amount of nitrogen and hydrogen sulfide. Generally, around 5,500-6,500 kilocalorie thermal power could be generated from 1 cubic meter biogas. State owned IDCOL has been implementing biogas programme in Bangladesh since 2006 with support from the World Bank, KfW Development Bank and SNV Netherlands Development Organization.

The IDCOL programme helps reduce the use of biomass fuel for cooking. Till November 2018, IDCOL has financed construction of over 48,800 biogas plants all over the country through its 42 partner organisations. IDCOL finances plants with daily gas production capacity ranging from 1.2 cubic metre to 25.0 cubic metre, thereby meeting demand of both domestic households and mid-sized dairy and poultry farms. IDCOL currently finances two models of plants: brick-cement based plants and fiberglass bio-digester based plants.

The programme saves 47,000 tonnes of firewood ever year worth USD 3.9 million and also reduces the use of 41,500 tonnes of chemical fertiliser worth USD 9.8 million by producing 290,000 tonnes of organic fertiliser. The programme also reduces 187,000 tonne CO2 consumption per annum. IDCOL has a plan to install 100,000 biogas plants in Bangladesh.

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