|Criteria for the Dissemination of Biogas Plants for Agricultural Farm and Household Systems (GTZ, 1993)|
This list of criteria is to give technicians, economists, agricultural engineers and social scientists the opportunity to assess the feasibility and possible structure of a project for the dissemination of biogas technology. The most important details are explained to readers who are not familiar with this technology. Experienced biogas experts will be able to use this to refresh their memory when working abroad. The most important questions are contained in the chapters "Criteria" and in "Data collection".
This work focuses on dissemination programmes for simple household plants and medium-sized plants with simple technology which is suitable for use on small and medium-sized farms.
Technically extensive plants equipped with heating, control, pumps or other devices are not being treated here. These are more individual solutions for industrial plants, larger settlements and large-scale farms whose wastewater constitutes a hazard to the environment or the health of the population. Technical personnel have to define the conditions essential for reliable operation in such cases. A description of the criteria relevant here would be beyond the scope of this publication.
Basically, the problems of the target group define the selection of the measures necessary or the technologies to be applied. A technological concept for biogas dissemination programmes has been agreed upon, which involves the target group being described and identified. After the extent, the method of production and the life style of the target group which can actually be reached are known, the technology has to be modified to correspond to these. This modification not only includes the technical variations but also the integration of the biogas plant into the prevailing agricultural farm and household system. To guarantee the efficiency of a dissemination programme it is essential to extensively standardise the technical components.
The most important problem areas can be defined as follows:
- structural-political conditions (in particular the political willingness and financial resources of administrative bodies and governments to become involved in biogas dissemination)
- structure, competence and budget of the institutions participating in the dissemination programme
- extent, structure and economic situation of the target group and the socio-economic conditions in the project region (to define the biogas potential)
- the time available for individual project phases
- the construction costs of the biogas plant and the costs of the dissemination structure
- the potency and competence of local building and craftsmen's trades
- the availability of the building materials and the gas appliances necessary
Normally, the projects only have a small degree of influence on these parameters, which consequently have to be initially accepted as given and unchangeable.
The following tasks have to be solved during the course of a biogas dissemination programme:
- precise familiarity with the a.m. problems
- selection, modification and continual improvement of the technology to be applied in line with the problems recognised
- definition of the plant potential and the area and time within which this potential is to be exploited
- definition of the components which can be realistically handled by the project and those which are to be passed on to other parties (private economy, extension services etc.) either initially or during the course of the project.
- definition of a dissemination structure which takes the potential, the funds available, the economic building situation and the individual features of the institutions involved in dissemination into consideration
- compilation of a scenario for sustainable dissemination activities subsequent to the end of the project.
It is imperative to identify favourable locations and to realistically estimate the suitability of counterpart organisations for the sustainability of the dissemination of the technology. Wherever a number of question marks appear, the project should be dispensed with in view of saving the resources which are in short supply. A decisive factor in successfully assessing a project location is ultimately the sensitivity for how the local conditions can be harmonised with the demands of biogas dissemination.
This publication is consciously limited to being an initial aid in deciding for or against a biogas dissemination programme. It attempts to outline the tasks involved according to the problem areas using examples in some cases. It would be an error to believe that a general catalogue of relevant criteria could contain all possible constellations with the aid of questions and answers and still remain manageable. Nevertheless, we hope this work will be of assistance to our colleagues. We always welcome any ideas or criticism.
Bernd Gutterer Ludwig Sasse