Biogas technology is definitely taking hold in Tanzania 

12Jun 2020
Editor
The Guardian
Biogas technology is definitely taking hold in Tanzania 

​​​​​​​Biogas is the mixture of gases produced by the breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen (anaerobically), primarily consisting of methane and carbon dioxide. Biogas can be produced from raw materials such as agricultural waste, manure, municipal waste, plant material, sewage,-

-green waste or food waste. Biogas is a renewable energy source. Biogas is produced by anaerobic digestion with methanogen or anaerobic organisms, which digest material inside a closed system, or fermentation of biodegradable materials.

Biogas can be compressed after removal of Carbon dioxide, the same way as natural gas is compressed to CNG, and used to power motor vehicles. In the United Kingdom, for example, biogas is estimated to have the potential to replace around 17 per cent of vehicle fuel.  It qualifies for renewable energy subsidies in some parts of the world. Biogas can be cleaned and upgraded to natural gas standards, when it becomes bio-methane.

 Biogas is considered to be a renewable resource because its production-and-use cycle is continuous, and it generates no net carbon dioxide. As the organic material grows, it is converted and used. It then regrows in a continually repeating cycle. From a carbon perspective, as much carbon dioxide is absorbed from the atmosphere in the growth of the primary bio-resource as is released, when the material is ultimately converted to energy.

The acting director of the Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation and Rural Technology (Camartec), Pythias Ntella, said recently that the institution had already employed more than 10,000 people in Tanzania with biogas technology.

These figures were made public at a workshop on renewable energy in Dar es Salaam,   organised by Hivos East Africa Nukta Africa, an international development organization, and Journalists for Environment (JET), a Tanzanian organisation of media professionals. The workshop aimed to train journalists in the country to enable them to improve the quality and quantity of reporting in the field of renewable energy.

Camartec, a government organisation responsible for the production and marketing of agricultural implements in Tanzania, introduced biogas technology to the country in 1983, in collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), a German international development cooperation agency. To carry out its activities, the institution needed an abundant workforce.

More than 10,000 temporary and over 100 permanent jobs have been created over the years. Thanks to this labour force, Camartec has already built 12,000 facilities (biogas digesters and tanks) for households and 125 facilities for various institutions (schools, companies…) in Tanzania. Communities have also received training in the use of biogas.

The biogas plants set up by Camartec use animal waste such as cow dung to make clean and cheap fuel. These plants are also used to produce electrical energy for household use.

Despite the Camartec’s good results, much remains to be done. The centre needs more employees to work in its biogas plants in order to produce more electricity to supply the population. The Tanzanian company also needs funds to monitor and evaluate the implemented facilities.

In Tanzania, 90 per cent of the population has no access to the electricity grid. They depend on firewood and charcoal. This situation leads to the felling of about 500,000 hectares of trees each year in the country.

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