A Review of Commercial Biogas Systems and Lessons for Africa

The review identified the critical barriers to commercial biogas development to be high initial capital costs, weak environmental policies, poor institutional framework, poor infrastructure and a general lack of willpower to implement renewable energy policies and set challenging targets.

Authors: Francis Kemausuor, Muyiwa S. Adaramola and John Morken
 
Journal: Energies 2018, 11(11), 2984
 
Publisher: MDPI 
 
Abstract
 
Many African countries have vast biomass resources that could serve as feedstock for methane production through the adoption of commercial biogas plants. However, due to many inhibiting factors, these resources are under-utilised. This article reviews commercial biogas systems that treat organic waste from municipalities, large livestock farms, large plantations/crop farms, food/beverage production facilities, and other industries, to identify essential lessons which African countries could use to develop/disseminate such biogas systems.
 
The review identified the critical barriers to commercial biogas development to be high initial capital costs, weak environmental policies, poor institutional framework, poor infrastructure and a general lack of willpower to implement renewable energy policies and set challenging targets.
 
In African countries where feed-in-tariffs, quota obligations and competitive bidding programmes have been instituted, implementation has been poor, and most state-owned utilities have been unsupportive. Using knowledge from more experienced countries such as Germany and China, some key lessons have were identified. Among the key lessons is the need to institute and enforce environmental management policies to ensure that waste from medium and large livestock farms and industries are not disposed of indiscriminately, a tool China has recently used to promote commercial biogas plants to a high degree of success.
 
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Illustration Photo: Lethbridge Biogas Facility (credits: Tonyglen14 / Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0))

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