Nepal: Bio-gas Revolution

A Biogas plant. Image by Flickr user Marufish. Used under a creative commons license

A Biogas plant. Image by Flickr user Marufish. Used under a creative commons license

Biogas technology is starting a green revolution in Nepal. According to WWF firewood is the preferred energy source in the country as almost 87% of households depend on it. However, biogas is emerging as a viable alternative. A recent report by AFP divulges that Nepal is making money (almost 600,000 US$ in 2007) trading carbon emissions with the help of numerous biogas plants across the country.

For a nation struggling find cheap and sustainable source of energy, biogas certainly brings good news for Nepal.

Globalwarming Arclein, a blog on how agriculture can help reduce carbon emission, says that the low tech approach of biogas makes it accessible to the majority of Nepalese people who live in villages:

“Biogas production is not high technology. It takes a cistern that can be made with a shovel and perhaps setting liner stones as is often done in a modern septic field. Capping this and drawing of the produced gas into a holding tank is simple and usage after that needs again fairly minimalist hardware that can be jury-rigged together.

The major requirement is to simply know that it can be done and that it will work. Recovery of the produced slurry later is unpleasant but no different than similar tasks attended to.It is not a convenient way to produce enough gas for household heating, but certainly sufficient to support incidental heating for cooking and producing hot water in a healthy way.”

Nepal's success in biogas could inspire its neighbors too. Nepal's closest ally India is also looking forward to develop alternative energy sources to deal with the growing demand in its rapidly industrialized states. Razib Ahmed at South Asia Blog, which focuses on the region's business and social issues, says:

“I am interested about biogas a lot because I believe that it has immense potential not only for Nepal but also for neighboring countries like India and Bangladesh. Biogas Sector Partnership Nepal (BSP-Nepal) is an NGO that is actively working for the promotion of biogas in the country. Until June 2008, 172,858 biogas plants have been made with their support.

As a result, more than 1 million people are getting the benefits. 1 million people may not sound to be that much to you but you have to remember that it is mainly the poor people living in rural areas who got benefited through this technology. Not only that, I would also like to catch your attention about the fact that Nepal imports almost 100% of its oil. So, every biogas plant made means saving some foreign currency for the country.”

And the interest in biogas is not a passing fad for Nepal. After many years of hard work and careful planning, it has been able to generate significant attention. Back in 2005, Mallika Aryal at RenewableEnergyAccess reported on Nepal's quest to generate sustainability and revenue through biogas.

“Nepal's Biogas Support Program has extended its work to 66 of the nation's 75 districts and plans to have 200,000 biogas plants installed by 2009. A plant suitable for a rural household costs US $300. Government subsidies have made the plants affordable. An individual invests only $200 and his investment is recouped in three years. A very good deal indeed!

Now the Nepali biogas plants are on their way to becoming a “good deal” for the global environment. When Kyoto Protocol, the global climate treaty, will enter into force for Nepal in December 2005, it would be eligible to start trading the carbon dioxide not emitted by using biogas and earn up to $5 million per year.”

To learn more about how biogas is helping Nepal, here is a video produced by the Nepal Project at Tokyo City University, Japan.


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