Is Biogas Just Hot Air?

A new biogas installation
UNDP in Uzbekistan: Biogas represents a prime example of how a source of renewable energy can have multiple benefits within a rural community in Uzbekistan

Biogas is the reason why today the Urgench farmer Bazarboy has travelled from his home town to Bukhara. For him, producing biogas from animal manure will have multiple benefits for his farm, and these benefits are well worth the trip.
 
Like many farmers, Bazarboy has both the materials needed to produce Biogas, and the ability to utilise its products to the fullest. His 50 heads of cattle can provide the manure needed to fuel the system, while the resulting gas will heat his cowshed in the winter.
 
Bazarboy’s greenhouse will be heated by the manufactured gas in order to grow vegetables all year round, while the slurry produced as a biogas by-product will be used as an effective fertiliser for his fields. The benefits obtained as a result of biogas will ensure that a profitable business can be passed onto Bazarboy’s children.
 
UNDP has invited Bazarboy and other ambitious farmers and rural residents throughout Uzbekistan to a seminar in Bukhara, where the potential to produce biogas in Uzbekistan was demonstrated. At the seminar they heard the stories of other farmers who had already installed biogas plants at their farms, listened to experts about the economic incentives and business potential of biogas production, and visited a pilot site in Bukhara as funded by UNDP.

While Bazarboy considers the technology to be a method to enhance his farm’s output, other business opportunities can come out of biogas. Rural entrepreneur Ganiy is utilising Biogas technology in a unique and profitable way, as the foundation of a successful business venture.

Highlights

  • Biogas, as an energy resource, a source of natural fertilizer and an entrepreneurial opportunity, has been widely introduced in regional Uzbekistan.
  • Legislation has been developed to promote national biogas development in coming years.

Understanding the numerous benefits of Biogas slurry as an alternative fertiliser, when compared to its chemical equivalents, Ganiy has established a sustainable living by converting manure from neighbouring farms into the useful organic by-product.
 
The heat obtained through the biogas system has allowed Ganiy to maintain his greenhouse, which will provide him with vegetables all year round. The success of his business has inspired Ganiy to increase his daily gas production from 250 m3 to 1,000 m3, and he will use the additional biogas to supply a planned fuel station for tractors.

In the last one in a half years, over 250 farmers in Uzbekistan have been trained to use biogas technologies to improve their agricultural outputs. As a result, the total number of biogas installations in Uzbekistan has increased from 20 in 2011 to 38 in 2013.
 
The comments and feedback from farmers have been addressed within the ‘Road Map for the Development of the Biogas Market in Uzbekistan’, a publication used by national partners to prepare a Programme of Development of Alternative Energy in Uzbekistan until 2007. A normative document on the Biogas Standard of Uzbekistan has also been developed.