Biogas - clean energy from animal dung
Biogas expert, George Kamau, demonstrates how farmers can generate clean gas for cooking and lighting, through use of a biogas digester. Animal manure is fed into an underground tank on a daily basis. As this is ‘digested’ by bacteria, methane gas is produced which is piped to the house, reducing the household’s need for firewood or electricity. Paschal Bagonza visits a farm in Kiambu district to the north of Nairobi, to see the system in action.
Having energy for cooking and lighting can be very costly, whether you depend on charcoal, firewood, paraffin or electricity. And, in addition to the financial costs, there can be costs to the environment as well, such as deforestation. Biogas, already popular in parts of Asia, is now becoming more common as a source of power in rural African homes, particularly among farmers who combine crop farming and livestock keeping.
The gas, which burns cleanly without unpleasant smells or smoke, is produced from waste products - most commonly animal dung - which are fed by the farmer into an underground tank, known as a digester. As the dung rots, it releases the gas which is stored and piped to the house, to power a cooking ring and a lamp. Paschal Bagonza recently went to meet a Kenyan farmer who has adopted the technology, and sent this report.
Paschal Bagonza reporting from Thakwa village in central Kenya.
Making the most of it:
The biogas digester in this report is made from cement, and is quite a big investment. However, much cheaper systems are now being installed, known as tubular biogas systems. Instead of a cement tank, these use a long tube made from plastic sheet. For farmers with livestock, these can be a very affordable way to produce gas for cooking. Find out whether these, or other biogas systems, have been installed in your area, and try to speak those involved.
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