Saturday, October 24, 2020

Local consumers shun Biogas

Although Botswana has submitted to the United Nations that it will transform the energy sector by reducing the emission of Green House Gases, Batswana generally shun some forms of energy like Biogas.

In an interview, Biogas expert and Lecturer at Botswana College of Agriculture Ezekiel Chimbombi said Batswana have not accepted other alternative forms of energy. 

“Batswana like short cuts. For instance, the government took an initiative to construct a solar energy plant in Motshegaletau. That was sometime before the BPC grid reached their area. When the grid ultimately reached them they immediately abandoned the use of solar energy.” He was responding to a question seeking explanation why Batswana do not embrace biogas despite it being cheap and easy to use.

He explained that with solar energy, the consumer has the responsibility to ensure there is regular power/energy supply by keeping the storage equipment intact and the gadgets are up to date. He said Biogas requires consumers to add manure (may even be left over food stuff) to the digestion chamber to keep the gas flowing. 

He also revealed that his department at BCA obtained some funds from the Global Environment Facility/Small Grants Program under the United Nations Development Program (GEF/SGP-UNDP) to make a mobile biogas plant which cost P200 000. He said they travelled to different places demonstrating and educating communities about Biogas.

Some big institutions such as Cumberland Hotel in Lobatse have bought into the idea and utilise biogas for energy and use its manure by-product in the gardens. The man who installed the biogas plant at Cumberland, Mathews Nyatshane, believes that, “Batswana do not make an effort to make a difference in their lives. It is not expensive to make a biogas project. You cannot spend more than P20 000 in materials and labour. It is a lifelong project as long as the user does not feed the digestion chamber with detergents like soap. Renewable energy is produced by fermentation caused by living organisms which will be killed by the use of soap. The plant is even more important because it produces mature-clean, odourless manure which can be used in the gardens or fields.”

Chimbombi and Nyatshane are of the view that lack of knowledge is the main culprit behind Batswana shunning biogas. However, Gabane village Chief, Seeletso Pule is of the view that biogas is not a viable project. He said had this been the case, the government could be using it in its institutions.

“There is no school or any institution whatsoever that has a biogas facility. Yet I remember that there used to be lessons on the project at Ramatea in Kanye. If the government can spend money on something and then abandon it, it simply means it is not viable. How can people adopt it?” he enquired.

Botswana has submitted to United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that it intends to achieve an overall emissions reduction of 15 per cent by 2030. The Department of Meteorological Services has submitted that, achieving the 15per cent GHGs emissions reduction target requires robust and comprehensive planning within the energy sector (stationary and mobile sources).

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