In Biogas Offers Poor Coutries a Cleaner, Safe Fuel, the International Herald Tribune reports that in developing countries methane derived from human feces and animal dung using biogas technology is providing fuel to low income populations.

Unlike directly burning animal dung, the methane is clean-burning and odorless. And the technology has benign byproducts: reductions in deforestation and disease.

An average home biogas system can reduce firewood use by about 4.5 tons each year, which translates into 4 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

As well as providing fuel for cooking and a sanitary environment, the process produces a pathogen-free manure which can be used by farmers as fertilizer.

The article describes how this technology is being used in places like Dalla in southern Nepal where petroleum-based fuels are too expensive. The government of Nepal, through its Alternative Energy Promotion Center, has helped build 200,000 low tech biogas systems across the country and has set itself an ambitious target to eventually reach two million.

Still, biogas systems are expensive for “middle poor” people…It costs about $550 to build a home biogas system, including quality-control audits and a toilet. Most of that expense is paid by a combination of government subsidies and financing programs for villagers.

In India, biogas systems are being built that run on human waste and which produce energy, fertilizer along with sanitation.

 

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