Community-Level Resource Development and Management, Part 2: A Transferable Approach to Feasibility Analysis for Biogas as an Alternative Cooking Fuel
Energy access for all is the seventh Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) put forth by the United Nations in 2015. This sustainable development goal has been taken on by many non-governmental organisations (NGOs), national governments and communities alike. Traditional Sub-Saharan African approaches to cooking often rely on three-stone fires (or other open wood fires). The smoke from these open cooking fires is known to cause significant adverse health impacts. Thus, access to cleaner energy sources is especially important to improve cooking conditions. One alternative cooking fuel is biogas, which has the advantages of smoke reduction, and decreased reliance on and impact of firewood collection. In this article, we develop a method of analysing the feasibility of biogas projects for some rural communities. The method we describe enables both evaluation of small-scale anaerobic digester designs for specific settings and determination of the scale, cost, and effectiveness of a biogas digester. For example, in a cooking application, 1 m³ of biogas can replace 1.3 kg of firewood and the associated time (approximately 10 minutes) spent collecting firewood. Such technology evaluation is critical for helping communities and organisations determine whether this type of project is well suited for their settings. All too often, development project concepts are funded prematurely, before the realisation that the implemented technology does not function properly or is unsustainable for specific applications. The feasibility analysis we describe is a contribution to the literature, because it provides a condense and, simply written resource to enable development practitioners, volunteers and communities in a rural setting, evaluate sustainable biogas energy solutions prior to investment and implementation.
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