3,600 biogas plants to be installed by year end

In the future BBP will try to make use of alternate materials such as human and kitchen waste

Alka Katwal
from Thimphu

Bhutan Biogas Project (BBP) will be installing 3,600 family-sized, quality biogas plants in the country by December this year. This was shared during the half-day workshop held in Thimphu on Thursday. The workshop “Media Seminar on Renewable Energy focusing on Biogas” was held with an aim to develop, strengthen and facilitate a commercially viable and market oriented biogas sector in Bhutan.
Since 2011 the BBP has been able to install 3,176 plants in 17 Dzongkhags.
During the workshop, the Project Director of BBP, Dorji Gyaltshen said such kind of seminars will help create awareness for a selected range of stakeholders who will help create additional awareness and support advocacy of biogas to larger sections of the society. “It is also with a hope that media houses would help in disseminating information while Civil Society Organizations and private sector agencies could help in further development of biogas in unreached areas,” he said.
The Project Director said that BBP’s future plans included trying the alternative biogas material like human waste and kitchen waste to conventional animal dung.
The domestic biogas plants convert animal dung and various other organic materials into combustible gas commonly known as biogas. Biogas consists primarily of methane (CH) and carbon dioxide (CO2). Methane is a valuable product as it is an effective energy carrier that has a wide range of uses, from simple gas stove for cooking to lamps for lighting. The slurry left over from this process is easily collected and can be used as organic fertilizer to improve soil fertility and increase crop yields.
A survey last year revealed that with biogas a person can now save up to three hours of household chores.
On average, farmers with at least two cows can generate sufficient biogas to meet their daily basic cooking and lighting needs. The investment cost for a quality ‘fixed dome’ biogas plant varies from US$450 to US$900, depending on plant size, location of construction and country and has a life span of at least 20 years.
BBP officials said that with biogas, a household can save 2,000kg of firewood, 255.5l of kerosene and 164.25kg of liquefied petroleum gas, and 1,460Kwh of electricity in a year.
Dorji Gyaltshen said the biogas plants also reduce greenhouse gas emissions with improved manure management.
“About 5,000kg of carbon dioxide equivalent would be reduced in a year,” he said.
However, he said two main challenges in Bhutan are the low temperature and the easy availability of firewood.
“Being a mountainous country, the temperature during summer ranges from 20 degrees to 30 degrees and in winter it drops to 0 degree or less. Though the digesters are buried underground, still one may expect the fermentation process rates to be low during winter time and biogas production correspondingly low,” said one of the officials.
Therefore to implement the project at high altitude places, the BBP has constructed one 8CuM biogas plant at Bumthang and two 6CuM plants at Haa. In addition, two medium scale 75CuM plants were also constructed at the National Pig Breeding Center, Gelephu, a first of its kind, and National Jersey breeding Center, Samtse.