Biogas was introduced in Bhutan in the 1980s as a clean and renewable energy source for cooking. However, most of the biogas technologies have been abandoned due to poor technical designs and lack of spare parts and maintenance.

According to a research paper presented at the international conference on “sustainable and renewable energy development and design” held in Thimphu from April 3 to 5, the world is in the need of a sustainable, efficient, carbon-neutral fuel source.

The search authored by Bikram Chhetri and Hemlal Bhattarai of the Jigme Namgyel Engineering College in Dewathang states that for the last decade the use of biogas coming from sewage collection, farms and industrial treatment has risen constantly.

The authors say that biogas, harvested from agriculture and food industries, not only fits this criteria, it is readily available and is affordable for people. Also known as biofuel natural methane, it holds potential for the future.

One of the organisers of the conference, (Dr) Tshewang Lhendup of the Phuentsholing-based College of Science and Technology, said it was one of the core mandates of the college to carry out research and come up with new ideas. “Coming up with research papers is part of our work mandates,” he said.

Researchers from Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Europe presented their research works at the conference.

To assess the biogas market potential in Bhutan, SNV, the Netherlands Development Organisation, conducted technical feasibility studies, and the ADB subsequently undertook the market assessment studies with SNV. The studies have concluded that there are at least 16,000 households that have the potential to use biogas plants cost-effectively.

The fossil resources of oil, gas and coal are not unlimited. The environment problems caused by wastes and wastewater have to be repaired and to be avoided in the future.

It is to be regarded that water itself is limited. One effective way to avoid the energy problems, the study states, is biogas-plants. Biogas is produced by fermentation of animal dung which has the same characteristics as human sewage or agricultural residues, and is rich in methane and has the same characteristics as natural gas.

The use of biogas as a clean fuel would solve the current concerns dealing with economics, ecology and energetics. This would decrease the smell and noise annoyances and green house effect.

Biogas fuels usually cause low pollution in the atmosphere and because they come from renewable energy resources, they have a great potential for future use.

MB Subba