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Role of biogas for energy supply in Bangladesh

(main author: Sheikh Md. Mohasin, revised by Simon Fleckenstein)


Introduction

With almost 1.300 people/km and about 165Mio inhabitants in 2017, Bangladesh is one of the countries with the highest population density in the world. (Statista 2019) More than one quarter of the population is facing severe poverty, whereas people from rural areas are more likely to be affected. Due to high population number as well as striven improvements in quality of life, electricity demand in Bangladesh is very high, and simultaneously with the population, constantly increasing. Nowadays, it is estimated that 50% of population in urban areas has permanent electricity supply, whereby only 25% of the majority of people living in the countryside is supplied. Even though the government is seeking ambitious objectives in providing electricity supply for all inhabitants of Bangladesh, realization is rather unlikely due to insufficient financial resources. Therefore, alternative sources for energy production have to be found. On this occasion, biogas obtained from biomass e.g. wood, cow dung and agricultural waste comes into play.  

 

Description of the Product:

As already mentioned, biogas, mostly in form of methane, can be obtained through bacterial decomposition whereby gas is released. (BiomassMuse 2019) At present state, biomass and agricultural residues are used directly in rural households for cooking, whereas only 6% of the population relies on biogas. According to Huda et. al (2014) 5% of rural inhabitants fall back on kerosene lamps for light generation. Generally, Bangladesh energy consumption with 297kWh per capita (Worlddata 2015) is one of the lowest worldwide, what can partly be explained by insufficient supply infrastructure (see Tab. 1).

 

Tab1. : Distribution of energy production in Bangladesh and comparison to Europe (Source: Worlddata 201%)

 

Description of the Market:

Bangladesh mainly produces most of the agricultural crops in winter season, whereat agricultural by-products are used for biogas production. As waste disposal activities are rather insufficient in Bangladesh, large amounts of raw material for biogas production is getting lost due to certain disposal methods. (Islam et al. 2014)

According to national "Infrastructure Development Company Ltd" (IDCOL) (2011), 1.5 million small-scale homestead biogas plants are planned to built by 2016 for supply clean fuel in the rural homestead of Bangladesh. In 2011, Bangladesh disposed about 20.000  biogas plants in which mainly raw materials in form of cow dung is used.  Nowadays, strong incentives in form of subsidies are provided by certain organizations to support growth of biogas production. For instance, IDCOL provides almost one third of implementation costs of a homestead biogas plant (Fig.1).

 

Fig. 1: Homestead biogas plant (Source: Bangladesh Biogas Development Foundation (BBDF)

 

Description of the Policy Measure:

The government of Bangladesh has introduced certain measures to promote renewable energy. Main target of the "Renewable Energy Policy 2009" is to produce 5 % of the total electricity out of renewable resources by 2015, 10 % by the year of 2020 and 20 % by the year of 2035.  Therefore, different production projects based on biomass have been implemented. Generally, the state-owned non-banking financial institution, IDCOL is playing major role to develop biomass-based projects by providing financial aid. Moreover, the international organization "Netherlands Development Organization" (SNV) initiated the National Domestic Biogas and Manure Program (NDBMP) in 2006 with the objective of developing and disseminating domestic biogas plants in rural areas. (Huda et al. 2014)

Evaluation

To sum up, biogas is a rather low-priced product for energetic and heating purposes and therefore providing a suitable solution for insufficient energy infrastructure in Bangladesh. Biogas plants mainly use cow dung and other type of feed stock for production purposes. As cow dung is readily available especially in rural areas where energy provision strongly lacks and simultaneously cheap compared to other raw materials for energy production, it can be considered as the most suitable input product. Moreover, incorrect disposal of dung can have harmful impacts on nature wherefore its usage in biogas plants is beneficial for society as well as environment. Furthermore, by-products of the plants in form of slurry can be used as organic fertilizer. 

All in all, biogas provides a promising opportunity to combat lack of energy provision in rural areas of Bangladesh, as implementation of such homestead plants is rather inexpensive compared to other renewable resources e.g. fuel wood, while enabling an efficient use of available raw materials. 

 

References:

BiomassMuse 2019: https://www.biomasse-nutzung.de/herstellung-biogas/ (viewed 27.01.2019) 

Huda, A. S. N., Mekhilef, S., & Ahsan, A. (2014). Biomass energy in Bangladesh: Current status and prospects. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews30, 504-517.

Islam, M. T., Shahir, S. A., Uddin, T. I., & Saifullah, A. Z. A. (2014). Current energy scenario and future prospect of renewable energy in Bangladesh. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews39, 1074-1088.

Khan, M E., Martin, A R. (2016), Review of biogas digester technology in rural Bangladesh. Renewable & sustainable energy reviews, 62: 247-259

Statista - The Statisitcs Portal 2019:  https://www.statista.com/statistics/438167/total-population-of-bangladesh/ (viewed 27.01.2019)

Worlddata.info 2019:  https://www.worlddata.info/asia/bangladesh/energy-consumption.php (viewed 27.01.2019)