Biogas is produced by the anaerobic decomposition of organic wastes like animal waste, food waste. This technology promotes the natural process of decomposition of materials in controlled anaerobic environment producing methane and other gases that are combustible and produce energy. This energy is primarily used for cooking purpose in Nepal 1,2.The Biogas technology has a key role on generating green jobs in a large numbers (at around 13000) in Nepal. Most of the villages (more than 2800, out of the total: 3915) of all 75 districts of Nepal have biogas installed. Studies have shown that, along with the biogas installation, the situation of health and sanitation is being gradually enhanced; deforestation (for the cause of firewood) is being curbed in Nepal. The technology is being concerned on caste and ethnicity, gender etc. issues to make the sector more inclusive, participative, decentralized and balanced.17
It is fulfilling the energy demands in the rural community of Nepal but also help reduce greenhouse emissions reducing amount of methane emission from the cattle excreta to the atmosphere; burning methane produces carbondioxide and water vapor, both gases less potent in absorbing solar radiation in comparison to methane 3.
In Nepal, the biogas plants of capacities 2,4,6 and 8 cubic meters are popular, more recently larger size institutional plants are becoming popular. Biogas in Nepal is one of the most popular form of renewable energy source in the rural region 4,5. More recently, institutional biogas plant with larger capacity are getting popular and over 50 large scale plants are under construction5. In recent year, the numbers of biogas plants is in fluctuation (see Fig. 1, and Nepal fiscal year 2061 means C.E.2004)18
The promotion of biogas in rural Nepal started in 1974. According to Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) 0.3 million biogas plants have been already installed in Nepal4. The promotion of biogas in Nepal was supported by financial support from different donor agencies like World Bank, Netherlands Development Organization (SNV-Nepal), Kreditanstalt fuer Wiederaufbau (KfW), Germany etc.
Fig. 1 Biogas Plants in Nepal
Policies and institutional framework that influence biogas promotion
Number of policies, programs and plans play important role in promoting biogas some of the important are listed in the table below;
Table 1 Policies related to biogas promotion in Nepal
Name of the Policy/Regulation/Plans
The Forest Act (1993- amendment 1999)
This law defined the community forestry, given considerable rights to the District Forest Office.
Promoted alternative fuel options, as there was limited access to the forests for fuel.
National Forest Plan (1976) and Forest Rules (1978)
Promoted community forestry which gave right to the people to manage forests, this promoted conservation of forests.
Because fuelwood was not readily available as before people started to look for the alternative fuel options.
Renewable energy subsidy policy (2016) 6
Provides financial subsidies to promote renewable energy technologies including biogas.
Additional financial incentive for public to adapt biogas.
National Renewable Energy Framework (2017) 7
Prioritized the technical studies of preparation of pipeline of potential biogas projects in commercial and municipal sector.
Commercialization of biogas and increased usability.
National five-year plan (1985-1990) 8
Prioritized and set the target to construct 4000 biogas units in the country
First of its kind initiative by the government at the national level by setting up targets.
National Agriculture Policy (2006) 9
Promotes agriculture controlling deforestation and agroforestry.
Increased number of cattle and animals hence increased amount of feedstock available for biogas plants 10
Rural Energy Policy 2006 9
Aimed at providing clean and sustainable energy sources in rural areas.
Promotes biogas among number of other clean energy options.
Buffer zone management rules 1996 11
Promote sustainable practices within the buffer zone area and help channel earnings from the national parks (NP) and wildlife reserves (WLR) to the people in the form of subsidies and technology transfer for initiatives that reduce stress on NP and WLR.
Technical and financial assistance to the people living in the buffer zone area to adapt biogas12.
Currently Nepal's policy for promoting investment in energy sector can be summarised as follows19:
- Nepal has made honest efforts to attract private to invest in renewable energy sector.
- In micro-hydro, the subsidy provide by the Nepal government with own and donor money covers around 50 percent of the investment cost. The other 50 percent is invested by beneficiary community or private sector entrepreneur.
- In Biogas sector too about 40 percent cost is covered by the subsidy and the rest by beneficiary households.
- In case of solar energy, government subsidy covers less than one third of the market cost of the solar panel and the two third cost is born by the subscribing household.
- The overall policy of the government is to develop and implement innovative financing mechanism and reduce the subsidy and promote private sector financing.
- In recent period government of Nepal has entered into the carbon trading and the money so earned is planned to invest in financing renewable energy sector.
Table 2 Institutions related to biogas promotion in Nepal
Name of Major Institutions
Ministry of Agriculture Development and Consulting Services (DCS), United Mission to Nepal (UMN) 8
Initiated the biogas at household level in Nepal.
Government of Nepal/ Agriculture Development Bank Nepal (ADB-N) and Netherlands Development Organization (SNV-Nepal)
Launched Biogas Support Program. Provided subsidy of 25% of the total cost and 50% in low interest to the customer.
Agricultural Development Bank – Nepal
Key promoter of biogas technology in Nepal, provided subsidies and raised awareness to public through its network of branch offices. Played key role in creatinon and establishment of Gobargas and Agriculture Equipment Development Company Ltd. (GCC) 8,13.
Gobargas and Agriculture Equipment Development Company Ltd. (GCC)
Played important role in research and design of the viable biogas digester design for Nepal 13.
Kreditanstalt fuer Wiederaufbau (KfW), Germany
Provided financial assistance for subsidy and credit for biogas users 13.
Microfinance and banks
Provided loans to the public for biogas plant construction.
National Cooperative Federation of Nepal
Signed MOU with Alternative Energy Promotion Centre in 2007 to promote biogas through microcredit system.
Biogas Support Partnership -Nepal (BSP-N)
Established in 2003 this NGO is partner organization to Government of Nepal to promote biogas. It has maintained quality assurance among public as it is ISO 9000:2008 certified organization.
Nepal Biogas Promotion Association
This is the umbrella organization for the biogas construction companies. Currently 112 companies working across the country are registered in the association 14.
Role of the private sectors
The private sector has played crucial role in creating sustainable market and in disseminating technology even in the rural regions of Nepal. It helped the government to deal with the limited resources and acted as the bridge between the government and the general public. The development of market was an important step in maintaining sustainability of the technology among public, in addition, continuous interest of public in the market promotes innovation creating a self-evolving system that corrects and amends itself with time. More recently, the private sector has shown more interest in promoting biogas, very recently with objective of producing Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) that can be used as an alternative to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) this plant will produce 2 tons of cooking gas daily10.
The market and policies are very closely linked with each other. The public private partnership helps to involve different stakeholders in the system. And acknowledges their contribution in the sector.
In spite of number of positive aspects there are number of things that need to be taken in to account to make sure that biogas continues to be one of the major household energy sources in Nepal. Institutional biogas plants and large-scale biogas digesters should be promoted in the urban regions. This will create a user-friendly interface for the people in the urban areas who would spend less time in managing the digesters in comparison to their rural counterparts.
The biogas produces bio-slurry, which is a digested material that is produced as the byproduct of the biogas production, it is odorless, nutrient rich fertilizing material rich in organic matter and enhances microbial activity in soil promoting agriculture16. The number of cattle and buffalos are continuously increasing and commercial cattle rearing for milk and meat is becoming popular 10. The multiple benefits of biogas and conducive environment for its promotion should be rightly assessed by the government and at the same time changing lifestyle and consumer behavior should be studied for the sustainability of this renewable energy.
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2. Minale, M. & Worku, T. Anaerobic co-digestion of sanitary wastewater and kitchen solid waste for biogas and fertilizer production under ambient temperature: waste generated from condominium house. Int. J. Environ. Sci. Technol. 11, 509–516 (2014).
3. US EPA, O. Understanding Global Warming Potentials. US EPA (2016). Available at: https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/understanding-global-warming-potentials. (Accessed: 24th January 2019)
4. Household Biogas-AEPC. Available at: https://www.aepc.gov.np/household-biogas. (Accessed: 24th January 2019)
5. Biogas plants growing in popularity. The Himalayan Times (2016). Available at: https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/biogas-plants-growing-popularity/. (Accessed: 24th January 2019)
6. IEA - Nepal. Available at: https://www.iea.org/policiesandmeasures/pams/nepal/name-159629-en.php. (Accessed: 24th January 2019)
7. National Renewable Energy Framework. Available at: https://www.aepc.gov.np/documents/national-renewable-energy-framework. (Accessed: 24th January 2019)
8. Bajgain, S. & Shakya, I. S. A successful model of public private partnership for rural household energy supply. Kigali Rwanda SNV (2005).
9. MOE. Biomass Energy Strategy 2017.
10. MOA. Statistical Information of Nepalese Agriculture (2015-2016). (Ministry of Agriculture Development, 2017).
11. GON. Buffer Zone Management Rules, 2052 (1996). (1996).
12. Bajimaya, S. Nepal’s experience in participatory biodiversity conservation with emphasis on buffer zone initiatives. Sect. Complexities Gov. Prot. Areas 276, (2003).
13. History of Biogas - Nepal Biogas Promotion Association. Available at: https://sites.google.com/site/nepalbiogas/biogas/history-of-biogas. (Accessed: 24th January 2019)
14. MEMBER COMPANIES - Nepal Biogas Promotion Association. Available at: https://sites.google.com/site/nepalbiogas/member-companies. (Accessed: 24th January 2019)
15. Nepal’s first biogas plant starts producing CNG. Available at: http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2018-01-06/nepals-first-biogas-plant-starts-producing-cng.html. (Accessed: 24th January 2019)
16. Bio-slurry - Nepal Biogas Promotion Association. Available at: https://sites.google.com/site/nepalbiogas/biogas/bioslurry/advan. (Accessed: 24th January 2019)
17. Biogas. Available at:https://www.aepc.gov.np/public/index.php/biogas-technology
18. Biogas Plant. Available at: https://www.aepc.gov.np/public/index.php/statistic/biogas-plant
19. Policy for Promoting Investment in Energy Sustainability A Case of Biogas Sector of Nepal. Available at:http://www.oecd.org/investment/globalforum/40311609.pdf