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Dhaka Tribune

Waste can be power

How biogas can provide affordable energy to Bangladesh

Update : 06 Nov 2019, 09:12 PM

Biogas is one of the most eco-friendly substitute renewable energy sources to meet energy requirement in the development index. In Bangladesh, diverse types of bio-degradable waste are produced every day. Utilization of biodegradable waste produces gas to meet the energy demand of mass people in Bangladesh. 

Setting the scene

Bangladesh is in a favourable condition in respect to the climatic conditions and availability of the raw materials for biogas production. In Bangladesh, there are about 22 million cattle, which excrete about 220 million kg of dung per day. This can produce biogas per year equivalent to hundreds of thousands of tons of kerosene. 

In today’s energy-demanding lifestyle, there is a need for exploring and exploiting new sources of energy which are renewable as well as eco-friendly. Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries, with limited land area and natural resources. Because of increased population pressure, a huge amount of natural resources are being used every day, and the quality of the environment is deteriorating. 

Though the elements used in biogas production conventionally are plenty in rural areas, the energy consumption is very high in the urban areas. To meet the growing demand of power in the industries and transportation in the urban areas, some sources are being investigated as a pilot project. 

In Bangladesh, the high cost of petroleum products, low coverage of the electricity grid, and increasing scarcity of traditional fuel woods due to deforestation have created an energy deficit situation in rural Bangladesh. However, long-term sustainable development in the energy sector requires a gradual shifting towards renewable sources of energy.

Biogas technology

The biogas production technology has been available since the early l900s, when it was used for the stabilization of organic sludge during the treatment of domestic sewage. Recently, there has been increased interest in this technology, especially in the developing world. The governments of Asian countries -- China, India, Nepal, and Thailand -- are giving attention to biogas technology. 

When biogas is used in suitably designed burners, it gives a clean, smokeless, blue flame, which is ideal for cooking. If biogas is used in specially designed lamps, it gives a light similar to the kerosene pressure lamps. Biogas can be used for other purposes -- electricity generation, refrigeration, space heating, and running engines. 

Consequently, residues from biogas plants are used as organic fertilizers for agricultural production. Basically, sources of biomass are two -- biomass from plant origin is aquatic and terrestrial, derived from various sources and biomass from animals are cattle dung, manure from poultry, and slaughterhouse and fishery wastes.

Municipal waste management in Bangladesh

Municipal waste is generally composed of food scrap, packaging materials, used plastic materials, etc. Due to the increasing growth of urban population in Bangladesh, this municipal waste is getting high concerns from the treatment perspective. 

The amount of produced municipal waste is about 7,900 tons daily in eight major cities in Bangladesh. This large portion of municipal waste being organic can contribute to the production of biogas. 

Concluding remarks

If facultative anaerobes and other bacteria responsible for anaerobic digestion and biogas formation are separately cultured and decomposed, then this experiment will result in a more accurate investigation and increase the production of biogas and decrease the time required. However, there are some socio-economic aspects. 

We can mitigate the energy crisis by using low-cost technology and produce biogas for our daily using purpose -- it will be an acceptable approach which will give us a way of sustainable resource management in Bangladesh.

Shishir Reza is an Environmental Analyst and Associate Member, Bangladesh Economic Association.

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