‘Biogas backpack’ successfully tested in Uganda

A Ugandan and German team called ‘Agali Awamu’ has developed an ‘innovative and feasible’ solution for electricity and biogas supply in Uganda.

The project was facilitated by the lab of tomorrow, an organisation run by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) formed to encourage ‘the private sector to engage in translating development challenges into business opportunities’. Agali Awamu has now been selected for further support to develop a business model as part of the pilot phase.

Wood is currently used to cook in rural areas in Uganda and charcoal in urban areas, methods that contribute to climate change through emissions and deforestation, and damage health. According to Christof Langguth, sales representative of PlanET Biogastechnik from Germany, Uganda has an insufficient and unreliable power supply but a growing population and agri-food industry.

He also emphasises that while off-grid, decentralised solutions are needed to replace fossil-generated energy, biogas plants are often prohibitively expensive at around €1000 in investment costs.

The Agali Awamu team built a 10m³biogas plant in a village close to a sugar factory. For the prototype, five families from the village bring animal manure and household waste daily to the biogas plant, to which a small cattle farm is also attached. The plant produced its first gas in February 2018; it is expected to reach capacity in the near future.

For a fee slightly lower than the price for firewood or charcoal, the biogas produced is transferred into 1m³ portable film containers. The villagers carry this biogas backpack home and connect it to a gas cooker. The team says that the produced biogas is enough to provide a family of five with ‘several’ hot meals a day.

‘Sensitisation’ of the villagers to the concept of biogas and honing the financing model are next steps for the project. Initial results on how the villagers’ situation is improving and how many people are benefiting from the project are expected soon.

PlanET Biogastechnik has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreeing to support the project remotely. According to managing director Jörg Meyer zu Strohe, the main focus is on building commercial, power-generating biogas plants in East Africa over the long term. He also sees the commitment of PlanET in the framework of the ‘Marshall Plan with Africa’ announced by the German government.

PlanET Biogastechnik has 400 biogas plants and more than 200 employees globally, with subsidiaries in Germany, France, Canada, USA and UK.

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