|Criteria for the Dissemination of Biogas Plants for Agricultural Farm and Household Systems (GTZ, 1993)|
|5. The project|
Principally, biogas projects or biogas dissemination programmes should only be initiated where the technology corresponds to the geographical, economic and in particular to the agricultural background conditions, and where the projects can concentrate on key tasks. Biogas programmes should only be carried out where sustainable dissemination of plants can be expected and where the public expenditure is in a reasonable relationship with the benefits expected. Unfavourable conditions and half-hearted involvement of the public sector only waste the resources of the partner country and of development cooperation which are in short supply anyway. Projects of development cooperation normally contain an orientation and an implementation phase. For biogas dissemination in contrast, three phases are typical: the demonstration phase, the pilot phase and the dissemination phase. Which of these is part of the implementation or orientation phase depends on the project purpose in each case.
Experience has shown that the transition from one phase to the next is very difficult as certain structures quickly become firm. Whether this is the integration of the technology in the counterpart organisation which only partly succeeded because speed had priority over cooperation in the initial phase, or whether high direct subsidies for demonstration plants prevent plant prices being adapted to market prices step by step. If the sense of a dissemination programme is to be judged in a preliminary study, one has to be conscious of the difficulty of this transition. The decision on how long the pilot phase should last or may last, has to be made. Which costs are related to this and who is to bear these costs for how long. To abruptly end a pilot phase which has a good background of funds and then to pass on dissemination to the counterpart with only minimum funds has often led to the destruction of successful bases for dissemination in the past. Project concepts cannot be set up stiffly or as stereotypes. As has already been described, the introduction of biogas technology is rarely carried out in one step. E.g., it can be quite feasible to maintain a pure demonstration or pilot programme for some years if one assumes that the transition to dissemination will not be probable until after a second "attempt". Assuming this, the biogas programme has to be structured accordingly. In this case, motivation and advertising do not stand in the foreground, but the production of as high a number as possible of absolutely immaculately operating biogas plants. The costs for direct subsidies will definitely be equal to the costs for a long and hard advertising campaign. Planning plants to conform to the locations and the most perfect execution of construction combined with slurry and gas utilisation concepts tailor-made to the individual user are then the defining yardsticks for the success of this demonstration phase. It is the purpose of such a project to present biogas technology associated with a positive image in this region - no more, but mainly, no less!
After a feasibility study, each programme begins with the construction of demonstration plants on suitable sites. A well-proven model of plant is roughly modified to the regional and local conditions. Normally, the first few plants are constructed with only a small participation by farmers who can then take over a forerunner function in the village. These farmers are intensively familiarised with the technology and information events are carried out. The implementing organisation begins to set up, the engineering, conceptual and organisational know-how for a dissemination programme. Initial experience with the operation of the plant leads to the model for dissemination being modified accordingly and a standardised concept for the location of the plant on the farm is developed. All additional activities necessary (e.g. introduction of stabling or propagation of new fertilising methods on the basis of slurry utilisation) are determined and the gas appliances are adapted. At this stage, local masons and fitters are already commissioned to build the demonstration plant. With the intention of creating a broad basis for cooperation in the field of biogas technology, a network is set up with other institutions. The political decision-makers are continually informed on the status of dissemination activities.
The purpose of the pilot phase during which about 20 - 50 plants are built, is to finally define the model of plant and the dissemination concept. The course of this phase is less primarily oriented to technical matters but is more concerned with organisation. The dissemination activities are integrated more and more into the normal routine of the counterpart organisation. In the pilot phase, experience with the demonstration plants is evaluated and the plants are possibly modified. Technical standards, i.e. the range of products for the dissemination structure (size of plant, gas appliances) is defined. Most successful dissemination strategies have been those which by initially concentrating on a limited region created a high advertising effect there and then allowed a rapid development in demand (from point to area). The dissemination concept is examined and implementation is begun, i.e. the tasks of individual parties are coordinated with each other and defined (implementation organisation, private sector, specialised institutes involved). A training structure is set up for masons and technicians with the implementation organisation. A commercialisation concept is compiled and implementation of this is started (advertising concept, price policy, structure and implementation of credit and subsidy models). Here, close cooperation with the political decision-makers, the administration bodies concerned and lobby groups is necessary It is the purpose of such work to secure budgetary and legal security for biogas dissemination.
Not until the type of plant and the dissemination concept have been clarified can the project go into the dissemination phase. This phase is characterised by the necessary dynamics being established for independent biogas dissemination. The project has now moved from a direct execution level to an organisational advice level and tries to support the consensus building and interest formation processes of counterpart organisations and of the political decision-makers. Decisions are made on whether it is possible to extend the biogas dissemination to other regions and which technical and conceptual amendments have to be made.