Biogas can solve nation's energy problems

Both government and voluntary agencies are helping to spread biogas technology, which can provide clean fuel and enriched manure as well as improve sanitation standards.

Published: Friday 30 April 1993

Biogas can solve nation's energy problems

Fuel of the future: Biogas can (Credit: WHO)AN ANSWER to the country's deepening energy crisis could be biogas, which besides being a non-polluting energy source, also provides enriched manure and improves local sanitation and health standards.

Biogas consists largely of methane gas and it is produced through the anaerobic fermentation of cattle dung and other organic wastes. It is an energy option in rural areas, afflicted by high oil import bills and growing deforestation. A number of family and community biogas plants have been installed and today India is second to only China in the extent of its biogas programme.

However, a limitation of biogas is its dependence on cattle dung. As a result, a technology meant to help the weaker sections of society, with limited access to a variety of resources, has resulted in most biogas plants being owned by the rich.

Several government and voluntary agencies are involved in disseminating biogas technology. The department of non-conventional energy sources (DNES) under the Union ministry of energy is the nodal agency in charge of the national programme on biogas development (NPBD). DNES has adopted a multi-model, multi-agency approach. It installs plants suited to local conditions and works with NGOs and state government officials upto the district level.

Many voluntary organisations are involved in NPBD's Action for Food Production (AFPRO). Technical and training support is provided by nine regional biogas centres. Its subsidy programme involves a lead bank in each district, selected by the DNES, which coordinates with other banks and institutions to give loans to approved applicants.

NPBD claims a success rate of 85 per cent and contends the 1.4 million biogas plants it has set up saves 4.38 million tonnes of fuelwood and produces 21.08 tonnes of enriched manure annually. But their claims have been discounted to some extent by Tata Energy Research Institute and the Comptroller and Auditor General.

To get in touch...

Department of Non Conventional Energy Sources (DNES)
9th Floor, Block 4-B, CGO Complex
Lodi Road
New Delhi 110 001

Raymond M Myles
Action for Food Production
25/1A Institutional Area
Pankha Road, D Block
New Delhi 110 058
Phone: 5555412, 5553652, 5592456

Aloysius P Fernandez
2, Service Road
Domlur Layout
Bangalore 560 071

Manibhai Desai
Bharatiya Agro Industries Foundation (BAIF)
Kamdhenu, Senapati Bapat Marg
Pune 411 016

Devendra Kumar
Centre of Science for Villages (CSV)
P O Maganwadi
Wardha 442 001

Joe Mabiath
Gram Vikas
P O Mohuda, Berhampur
Orissa 760 002

S Lognathan
Association for Sarva Seva Farms (ASFEFA)
38, K B Dasan Road, Teynampeth
Madras 600 018

Gujarat Energy Development Agency (GEDA)
B N Chambers, 3rd Floor
R C Dutt Road
Vadodara 390 005

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