Biogas plant will get rid of all energy issues for anyone

Capital expenditure: Rs300,000 is the investment required to set up a 100 cubic metre biogas plant.
Capital expenditure: Rs300,000 is the investment required to set up a 100 cubic metre biogas plant.

FAISALABAD: As the country faces severe energy crisis coupled with increasing prices of fossil fuels, the Netherlands has provided an alternative option in the shape of biogas plants that with an investment of Rs300,000 could run a small-size factory without interruption round the clock.

But the project has not gotten broader coverage and acceptability due to the federal and provincial governments’ indifference to alternate energy resources despite severity of the energy crisis.

Introduced by the Netherlands Development Organisation, the 100-cubic- metre plant can run generators, dairy farms, poultry farms and other small-size factories on power derived from biogas with an estimated cost of Rs300,000. The input of the plant is cow dung or farm waste that is produced by 30 to 40 animals.

Rajesh B Shreftha, senior adviser to the Netherlands Development Organisation, said the ratio to install these biogas plants in Pakistan was very low. He said the installation of biogas plant in Pakistan was cheaper compared with other countries of the world, but the lack of government support was the major bottleneck in marketing.

In Nepal, every year 20,000 biogas plants are installed, while in Bangladesh the figure is 6,000, in Vietnam 18,000 and in Pakistan the number of plants is a meagre 3,000, said Shreftha.

Energy crisis in Pakistan has become the biggest stumbling block in the economic growth of the country. The lack of government support in biogas projects was creating the problems for farmers and other consumers, he added. The Netherlands Development Organisation will bear 20% cost of a biogas plant, and a matching support from the government could significantly lessen the energy problems in the rural areas, he added.

Alternate energy sources especially for the rural community must be explored. It is becoming difficult for the government to provide gas even to cities, thus the villagers can at least go for alternative options, said Shreftha.

He added that he has been working in Pakistan since the last four years to promote the biogas technology. Our organisation was working on biogas plants in many countries and all the countries except for Pakistan were supporting the consumers to install the biogas plants, he said.

He added that the government should launch microcredit financing facilities like by the other countries for biogas plant installation. There was a dire need to introduce good and comprehensive policy to increase the ratio, said Shreftha.

Biogas is cheap, clean and extremely convenient fuel. This technology to the rural community will help to mitigate the daily cooking problems, upgrade their living standards and slow down migration to urban areas.

Presently, Pakistan is facing major energy crisis that has seriously affected economic growth and the development process. Prolonged load-shedding is a routine matter in Pakistan and the reason is continuous decline in oil and gas reserves and increasing prices of petroleum products.

The available options for renewable energy in Pakistan are wind, solar, biogas and biogas is the cheapest than others, he added.

Faced with power outages and high price of diesel the farmers were not able run their tube-wells to irrigate their crops. Because to biogas tube-wells, farmers benefitted immensely, he added. The use of biogas is a good option to run existing tube wells, which were earlier using diesel oil. We hoped that this new project will also resolve their energy issues, he added.

He said central Punjab was one of the potential areas for installing biogas plants where most of the population relies on agriculture. The government of Pakistan should come forward with a new policy to help farmers buy biogas plants as they have insufficient resources, he concluded.

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