Some farmers are now looking up to biogas technology to transform animal and other wastes into power plants. DANIEL ESSIET reports.
Hope for biogas power generation is high among farmers and innovators as it potentially solves the twin challenges of disposal of livestock waste and provision of energy to offset the rising cost of electricity.
Biogas is a type of biofuel produced from the decomposition of organic waste. Animal manure, food scraps, wastewater and sewage are examples of organic matter that can produce biogas.
Mr.Adewale Zacchaeus, a small- scale farmer in Ibulesoro community in Ondo State, has every reason to smile. Two years ago, he had no light on his farm. Hence, he only sold his produce as he couldn’t process because there was no electricity: the village is not connected to the national grid. But his story is different today. He now generates renewable electricity from cow dung. All thanks to the Federal College of Agriculture (FECA), Akure, Ondo State and the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP-Nigeria).
While FECA used his place to demonstrate how to use cow dung to generate power with a modest biogas plant, WAAPP funded the project. So now, thanks to cow manure and biogas technology, he and his family not only have free, but sustainable power all year round.
Ibulesoro community now uses animal wastes for electricity generation and cooking gas, courtesy of FECA and WAAPP.
Cow dung is sourced from various farms close by. One cow can produce over 30 gallons of manure a day. Zacchaeus is happy he can enjoy electricity.
Before the project, each day, Mrs Zacchaeus spent several hours collecting wood for cooking and heating water. The construction of a biogas plant at their home has transformed their lives. She has been freed from the daily drudgery and now has more time to spend on activities that generate income for the family. Her husband has become skilled at installing and maintaining the biogas plant, making him crucial for the development of other plants in the area.
For FECA, turning cow manure into biogas is a boon to agriculture.
By implementing the cow dung energy project for farmers, FECA Provost Dr Samson Odedina said the school envisages a transformed agricultural industry that meets the needs of the rural and urban poor, small holder farmers, and provides transition to modernising agriculture.
Odedina said energy is needed in all aspects of agricultural and food production, including processing, service provision, among others adding that such sustainable solutions, provide the key to improving energy ana reducing poverty among the rural poor.
According to him, the college trains farmers and students to use biogas technology to generate methane gas from cow dung and transfers it into cooking fuel.
In this regard, Zacchaeus, a beneficiary, is able to collect cow manure to power his home.
The Provost is looking forward to a new revenue source and jobs to be created through the initiative. The construction cost of biogas power generation facility is N500,000.
Despite biogas being more expensive than other forms of renewable energy, the farmers chose it because it provides them with a way to dispose of waste while generating power. Liquid biogas residues left after the fermentation process are also utilised as fertiliser.
The Akure municipality ferments so much tonnes of cattle waste per day from the abattoir that can be collected by farmers.
Another success story is in Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. There, an agricultural firm, Ajima Farms, has powered Rije Village in Kuje Area Council, with 20 kilowatts of biogas from generators. The project, called Ajima Farms Biogas Digester Off-Grid, was inaugurated by the United States African Development Foundation (USADF), led by its Regional Director, Tom Coogan, along with project coordinator, Ajima Farms, Fatima Ademoh, and Reji Village Head, Ibrahim Kuyagwa.
Ajima Farms is the inaugural winner of the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) Off-Grid Energy Challenge, which was also conducted in eight other African countries. USADF gave a grant of $100,000 to Ajima Farms, and later expanded the funding with $50,000 for a second biogas project in Kuwizhi Village in the same area council of the FCT. Since 2013, USADF has funded over 70 entrepreneurs in nine countries, and has invested over $7.5 million in their enterprises.
Ademoh said: “We own Ajima Farms and we were presented with two problems, which were agricultural wastes and surrounded by villages that are not connected to the national grid and could not access electricity. We looked on how we can solve these problems. “The wastes, as we looked at them, were not good for the health of the community, and the gas released by these wastes into the atmosphere is 24 times dangerous more than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. The project has three components, which are energy generation, clean gas cooking solution and energy efficiency. We have similar project at Kuwizhi with 10 kilowatts. “That gave birth to the biogas project here in Rije village of Kuje Area Council.
This is to power the community. Currently, we gather waste from commercial farms around here and also get waste from the community, and the youth bring them on site. They secure and operate biogas generators. “There is a meter that regulates the consumption of power from the source of power supplied to consumers in the village through the pre-paid metering system we have, and is not the same with the power Distribution Companies.”
According to her, currently 45 per cent of Nigerians are not connected to the national grid, which makes them to have concern with communities that do not have access to electricity, and added that biogas remains a clean form of energy, whereby the government could come up with Public Private Partnership (PPP), to deploy this energy at a larger scale.
Team Lead, Zeta Prime Alternative Technologies, Miss Uzoma Eleke is developing innovative renewable energy technologies.
In 2016, TOTAL Plc launched a competition called the Africa Startupper Challenge 2016 where some Nigerian innovators competed by showcasing their projects. 1,943 projects were submitted and evaluated out of which 3 were selected.The first runner up of Total Nigeria 2016 Startupper Challenge was Uzoma Eleke. Her organisation is working on a prototype biogas project that can used by farmers who are off grid.
She has successfully tested the first lab-scale prototype across major off grid communities in Kuje and Bwari Area Councils of Abuja.
Uzoma explained that the pilot anaerobic digester will produce methane (biogas) from fermented organic waste (biomass). She sees an opportunity for the construction of a centralised biogas plant that will utilise available waste to produce energy and bio-fertiliser. She is determined to become an electricity producer powered by biogas.
While most farmers would embrace biogas as a way of cutting on the cost of fuel for domestic consumption, she noted that it is still expensive toacquire biogas digesters.
Overhead costs although many of them still find the Sh100, 000 needed to install the units to be steep; they contend that what accrues from this renewable energy source is worth it in the long run.
Across Africa, the biogas business is booming. Biogas is produced from large fermenting tank for corn, liquid manure and glycerin.
Experts believe if well harnessed, Nigeria can realise at least N4.54 trillion yearly from biogas produced from organic waste processing.
One of them is the Chief Executive Officer, Avenam Links International Limited, Mrs. Nina Ani.
Mrs Ani said yearly agricultural, municipal, plant, sewage, green, food, and livestock wastes, among others, across the country, is estimated at 542.5 million tons and worth N4.54 trillion (or $29.29 billion).
She said aside the monetary value, biogas as a renewable source of energy and cooking gas has positive long-term implications on human beings and their environment unlike the traditional fossil fuels.
She identified governmental policy and funding as two major challenges inhibiting the right investments in biogas production.
- Pitch Agrihack 2018 Winners
- How to Take Care of Young Broiler Chicks
- Nigeria’s IITA Wins Africa Food Prize Award 2018
- Friesland Campina to invest €23 in Nigeria’s dairy production
- Complete Guide on How To Start Grasscutter Farming in Nigeria