Cover Image
close this bookGATE - 1/82 - Appropriate Technology - by whom? for whom? and how? (GTZ GATE, 1982, 36 p.)
close this folderWorkshop
close this folderGATE seconding expert team on biogas support for interested partner countries in the Third World
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentCatchword : ''Biogas''
View the documentBiogas plants in the FRG


by Peter Pluschke

In view of the manifold efforts in the field of research and development over the past years one can state today that biogas technique (cf. "Catchword" on page 8) is on the threshold of being implemented on a broad scale. This fact is reflected not only in the successful national programmes of disseminating biogas technology in India and the People's Republic of China. However, in order to develop strategies how to spread this technology's application more comprehensive information must still be gathered and various concepts adapted to specific conditions be tested. In this context, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ) has commissioned GATE with starting a programme to disseminate biogas technology. This programme contains an additional element, namely spreading the use of fuel-wood saving, so-called smokeless cookers.

During the past months GATE has put together four teams to carry out the biogas programme. Each team consists of one technician/engineer, one expert on agriculture and one on socio-economic affairs. These teams will, as a matter of principle, cooperate in the country of assignment with local partner organisations which in the course of time will then take over responsibility for the implementation of the programme.

The Programme's Objectives

The advisory activities of the biogas teams are designed to enhance first initiatives to disseminate biogas technology in the partner countries. In this connection, biogas technology is understood to be a means to make better use than hitherto of locally available resources for the generation of energy. Thus, it can contribute, in the long run towards coming to grips with the energy problem. It can moreover help strengthen decentralised ways of development and support development processes likely to be self-supporting.

At the same time, biogas technology contributes to producing high-quality organic fertiliser. It is furthermore of importance in connection with improving sanitary and hygienic conditions; aspects of environmental protection, too, must be seen in this context - specially with regard to pig farm waste disposal. In some places, non-energy aspects of biogas technology are valued higher than its contribution to the energy supply.

The introduction of biogas technology which, as a rule, does not belong to those techniques people are already familiar with, gives rise to substantial cultural and socio-economic problems; it is not the aim to create development islands but to arrive at a genuine diffusion of this technology. If biogas plants to be set up are to be in line with basic requirements of an appropriate technology (AT), they must be congruent with local conditions in terms of their technical standard and their mode of application. Their introduction must at the same time, however, be seen as an innovation which will entail a whole chain of changes:

- intervention into the economy of the site area (new jobs as a result of construction, maintenance and operation of biogas plants; steps towards modernisation in this field; considerable financial burden resulting from constructing biogas plants; provision of organic fertiliser material through the plant, etc.);

- social consequences to be drawn from owning biogas plants and/or knowledge of the technology (value as status symbol; significance for all sectors of training, etc.);

- changes in the labour organisation (e. 9. Iinkage of farm labour organisation with processes required for the functional operation of a biogas plant; need of reliable and regular maintenance, new possibilities for fertilising, etc.);

- influence on cultural aspects (e. 9. as a result of changed cooking habits, i.e. gas cookers instead of open wood fire; modification of the traditional way of dealing with faeces/waste materials, etc.);
These items are just an indication of the complexity of the tasks arising in connection with the programme of disseminating the use of biogas. In view of the fact that, with the exception of the Indian and Chinese programmes, there is as yet no such national programme that could be considered as having a genuine multiplying effect, the approach adopted by GATE still contains many research aspects. It is principally a matter of doing comparative studies of different concepts and the testing of various technologies. Accordingly, projects were selected with a view to covering as broad a spectre of approaches to use biogas as possible.

Project Approaches

In January 1981, various projects under German technical assistance were provided with information on the biogas programme with the aim of finding out possibilities to incorporate biogas technology elements either in the project or-in components connected with it. On the basis of proposals received, seven sites were selected for the biogas programme:

1. Thailand

Activities will, initially, center on Chiangmai in the north of the country. The Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Chiangmai intends to set up a number of biogas plants in order to carry out a research programme and, within the scope of an information programme going outside the university, make use of the plants for teaching and demonstration purposes, thus promoting the dissemination of biogas plants.

Initially, four plants of different types are to be installed and monitored in terms of comparing investment costs. The operation of the plant is to be monitored through a comparative measuring programme; the fertilizer thus produced will be subjected to field tests.

Parallel to installing these demonstration plants, investigations and studies will be made- initially in the immediate neighbourhood of Chiangmai, and, at a later stage, also in the project area of the Thai-German Settlement Project - of the general socio-economic conditions governing the use of biogas on a broad basis (types of animal husbandry, use of biomass, consumption and cooking habits, use of fertilizers, fuel demand, types of cooperation among the people, offers of plant material in the market, etc.).

The results achieved will then form the basis for deciding whether the Settlement Project is suited to become part of the biogas programme, i.e. whether types of plants can be found or developed which can be purchased and used by the approximately 10,000 families to be resettled.

In the medium run, it is planned to install some 20 plants for demonstration purposes in the settlement area (the implementation of this programme is not linked directly to the presence of the German team).

A third component of the Thailand programme concerns the cooperation with the Population and Community Development Association (PDA); this is a non-governmental organisation with experience in the field of community development, and works on a broad scale (family planning, hygiene, rural water supply). Biogas technology is meant to contribute towards the development of a village community. The task to be fulfilled in this connection is to check very carefully any socio-economic consequences to be expected as a result of installing biogas plants and to determine a type of plant that can easily be operated and is suited for that particular region.

2. Tanzania

In this country, the team will work within the project "Training Centre MATI Nyegezi", a centre of agricultural training facilities. The school in Nyegezi near Mwanza on Lake Victoria is specialised in providing training for agro-techniques and irrigation farming. It has been intended since long to teach the approximately 200 students of the school also in possibilites of using alternative sources of energy. Within this general set-up, the biogas programme team is faced with the following tasks:
This small water turbine developed in Nepal, can be produced at little technical expense. The model pictured here of such a stream turbine (one of about 30 different types existing meanwhile) is being used within the scope of a GATE project to supply energy to a remote village in Ecuador.
- development of a concept to impart the technical, agro-economic and socio-economic aspects of biogas technology within the framework of the MATI-training programme ("development of curricula");
- dissemination of biogas technology to other sites and places;
- further development of biogas technology against the background of conditions prevailing in Tanzania (e.g. Iack of construction material, extremely high prices of sheet metal, etc.).

The dissemination of biogas technology in Tanzania will have to be a long-term project. Special importance must be attached to train the agricultural labour force to enable them to identify and determine, in their environment, potentials for using biomass in biogas plants, and to work out technical and economic ways and means of constructing biogas plants.

3. Turkey

Here, short-term expert assignment is envisaged to support the project "Production of Biogas Plants through the Employers Association Yahtas A.S. in Yahyali (Sivas Province)." This project was sponsored by the Centre for International Migration (CIM) upon whose commission a first model plant was set up.

Yahtas A. S.'s activities are aimed at developing this plant up to a mature technical level and then put it on the Turkish market. The difficult climatic conditions in the mountains of Anatolia give rise to special technical problems. It is therefore important to provide for an effective heat insulation of the plant and a safe functioning of the heating system.

Apart from the mere technical aspects one has to examine very carefully the economic conditions for disseminating such plants; advisory services on the integration of the biogas plant in agricultural production processes will be necessary (especially regarding the use of sludge as fertiliser). A concept how to organise the monitoring and maintaining of the plant (which is to be a community plant) and how to finance it has already been worked out.

4. Upper Volta

The assignment of a biogas advisory team in Upper Volta will take place within the scope of IREN (Institut de Recherche en Energies Nouvelles) activities; this institute will be set up under the Upper Volta Speciai Programme on Energy. Via the CNRST (Centre National de Recherche Scientifique et Technologique), an umbrella organisation, an agreement was concluded with IREN on the training phase for the francophone biogas team of GATE.

This training phase - an introduction to the specific aspects of biogas technology under Sahelian conditions - will then be followed by an assignment of experts for some months to support IREN in working out a concept for, and initiating, a national programme to disseminate biogas technology.

IREN has already established a general concept on the dissemination of biogas plants in Upper Volta; this concept is aimed at training a cadre of skilled workers who would then be able to construct under their own responsibility plants which would be economically viable and self-sustaining. Within the framework of this concept, IREN would take over further research and development tasks as well as monitoring functions

The biogas team will carry out the following tasks, in particular

- continuation of the collection and evaluation of data on the biomass potential of Upper Volta; regional study to determine possibilities of use most likely to succeed;

- setting up of demonstration plants; further development of biogas plants which are geared to the specific conditions prevailing in the Sahelian zone; comparison of types of plants; - advisory services in connection with the establishment and operation of an analytical laboratory.

5. Burundi

The assignment planned for Burundi follows a request made within the scope of the project "Promotion of goat-breeding and -keeping in the Ngozi Region". Already in 1981, a small test plant was set up there which operated successfully. As cattle is kept as well in the same area, it is intended to construct a larger plant for the fermentation of cattle dung.

The demonstration effect of the plant is to be used to support the further dissemination of biogas plants in the region. This project can be given additional support by the extension service which is presently being established. The agricultural organisation of the government, named SRD, could act as the local partner organisation.

6. Nicaragua

In Nicaragua it will be the task of the biogas team to assist the activities of CITA (Centro de Investigacion de Technologia Apropiada) to introduce and promote biogas technology. CITA works under the Ministry of Agriculture and, accordingly, is predominantly engaged in rural development projects.

The break-down of the tasks is as follows:
- working out of a concept for, and execution of, an investigation programme to check the suitability of agricultural waste materials;
- assessment and dissemination of methods to analyse the suitability of waste materials for anaerobic fermentation; implementation of a measuring programme;
- elaboration of studies on the functioning and kynetics of the different types of plants;
- participation in the training of biogas technicians;
- working out of financing concepts for specific projects.

7. Barbados

Project plans on Barbados are based on contacts with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) whose Technology and Energy Unit (TEU) is already assisting biogas projects in the Bank's business area on the Caribbean islands. Hitherto, such measures were almost exclusively concentrated on relatively large plants and plants in the agro-industrial sector.

The biogas programme is designed to help set up a scheme for the development and commercialisation of small plants for households and small farmers (especially pig farms). It is planned to set up a demonstration plant on all suitable islands and to establish a network of Caribbean organisations to disseminate the technology and cater for the plants.

Documentation and Evaluation

An information brochure which is expected to appear regularly every two months will provide reports on the biogas programme. With the help of this newsletter contact will be maintained between the experts working in the various projects and all other persons taking part in the planning and implementation process.

Moreover, this publication might help to inform, to a limited extent, also the profession and trade on problems and success in connection with disseminating biogas technology.

At the end of the Programme's first year, a seminar will be held in Eschborn where experiences will be evaluated and conclusions drawn on future concepts to disseminate this technology.