Volume 42: Energy Transitions toward Carbon Neutrality: Part V

Is small-scale biogas production a viable source of electricity in rural Sub-Saharan Africa? Patrik Klintenberg, Fastudo Mabecua, Sebastian Schwede



This study investigates the benefits and limitations of small-scale biogas technology at the household level in rural Sub-Saharan Africa. A literature study and a case study were done to explore if small-scale biogas production is a viable source of electricity in rural Sub-Saharan Africa. The results show that using cattle manure as feedstock requires a daily substrate flow of 750 L of the diluted substrate, i.e. 250 kg of manure and 500 L of water for a 24-hour electricity supply, using a 2-kW generator. This requires a minimum herd size of 25 cattle. Most households don’t have so many cattle. However, a herd of 10 cattle provides enough biogas to power several electrical appliances, significantly improving the household’s energy situation. The study concludes that the uptake of biogas technology in Sub-Saharan Africa is slow. Common barriers include inadequate substrate supply, lack of water and variable temperatures, high initial costs, poor technical quality, intense labour operations and maintenance, and insufficient policy support. Improved uptake of biogas technology in Sub-Saharan Africa requires establishing national institutional frameworks and supporting policies, collaboration with the intended users of the technology and local support organisations, ensuring long-term local availability of spare parts and supplies, and, when household-level access to feedstock is limited, centralise biogas systems on the village level to combine feedstock into one production system.

Keywords rural electrification, small-scale biogas digester, electricity generation, cattle manure

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