Neten Dorji | Trashiyangtse

About 62 households in Trashiyangtse are now opting to use biogas as the primary source of energy for cooking purposes.

Of the eight gewogs, Ramjar gewog has 61 plants are under construction followed by 18 plants in Bumdeling gewog.

A Ramjar resident, Goen Dorji, said that although he owns few cattle, he uses clean energy every day. “Fuel generation is slightly lower in winter.”

He said that except for minor challenges in winter, when the rate of decomposition inside the plant is slow and energy output is decreased, there are no major problems using the plant.

Another resident, Norbu, said that in the past, her family used to consume about three to five bolero pickup loads of firewood annually. “Today, we need not depend on firewood and LPG for cooking purposes.”

She said that unless biogas was introduced in the village, she didn’t know cow dung could also produce energy.

Chimi, 59, of Nagtshang village said she didn’t use LPG at home for almost three years.

With few crossbreed cows at home, her family uses biogas only. “I have one LPG cylinder but it is of no use.”

She said that besides the gas, they also get organic manure that helps in growing vegetables. “Unlike cow dung, the manure does not get infested with worms and has no smell. The impact on vegetables is better than those chemicals and fertiliser we used.”

A biogas plant costs between Nu 30,000 to Nu 40,000 depending on the size and location. Farmers receive materials as subsidy from the government while they contribute the labour.

Ramjar gewog livestock supervisor, Tshering Dechen, said 20kgs of cattle dung would produce enough gas to burn a stove for four hours.

He said biogas is also eco-friendly and helps in maintaining a clean environment. “It is easy to set up and require little capital investment.”

He said that although only two plants were installed in 2015, more people are opting for biogas plants now. “The lack of exposure on technical knowledge and financial implications are deterring farmers to take up the project.”

Tshering Dechen said biogas is one of the cheapest and cleanest forms of renewable energy. “A villager can become energy self-sufficient by utilising biogas plant and waste materials produced by livestock each day.”

Of the 61 households that are constructing biogas plants, 23 were completed and nine households started using it.

Biogas was introduced in the country in the late 1980s as a clean and renewable source of energy for cooking. However it was abandoned due to poor technology design and maintenance.

The idea was reintroduced in the east in 2010 under the small grant project of the United Nations Development Programme.