Pakistan Council of Renewable Energy Technologies to Install 368 Biogas Plants

March 27, 2012

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Council of Renewable Energy Technologies (PCRET) will install 368 Biogas plants in different rural areas by the June 2012 under the project “Development and Promotion of Biogas Technology for meeting domestic fuel needs of rural areas and production of Biocfertilizer”. This project was launched in 2008 through which 2500 family size Biogas plants are to be installed in the country, out of these 2132 plants have been installed and the remaining will be installed by end of financial year 2011-12.

Giving further details, Deputy Director PCRET, Sarfraz Khattak said as per livestock census 2000, there are 46.69 million of animals (Buffaloes, Cows, Bullocks) in Pakistan. In the year 2002-03, the domestic live stock population was estimated at 23.3 million cattle, 24.8 million buffalo, 24.6 million sheep and 52.8 million goats. He said on the average, the daily dung dropping of a medium size animal is estimated at 10 Kg/per day. This would yield a total of 466.9 million Kg dung per day. Assuming 50% collectability, the availability of fresh dung comes to be 233.45 million Kg/ per day. Thus, 11.67 Million M3 biogas per day can be produced through biomethanation.

It is estimated that 0.4 M3 gas could suffice the cooking needs of a person per day, therefore 11.67 million M3 of biogas could meet the cooking needs of 29.2 million people. The total population of Pakistan is about 170 million, out of which 70% reside in rural areas. “We can meet about 30% cooking requirements of the rural masses from this source of energy (biogas) alone. Besides, producing 33.52 million Kg of biofertilizer per day or 18.6 million tons of biofertilizer per year, which is an essential requirement for sustaining the fertility of agricultural lands”, said Sarfraz Khattak.

Giving details, Deputy Director PCRET said an average family in Pakistan consists upon 5-7 members. As per survey, the consumption of various kind of conventional fuel for cooking purpose includes Wood at 27.93 Kg/day, Animal dung at 61.66 Kg/day, Charcoal at 8.1 Kg/day, Kerosene oil at 3.1 Lt/day, L.P.G at 1.5 Kg/day, and Electricity at 25 KWh/day. Deputy Director PCRET said a family size Biogas plant (5 M3) could save annually 10056Kg wood, 22200 Kg animal dung, 2940 Kg charcoal, 1104 litre kerosene oil, 540 kg L.P.G or 9000 Kwh electricity.

Sarfraz Khattak said completion of this project will help protection of forests, protection of environment and bio diversity, provision of soot-free fuel to meet domestic energy needs, provision of neat and clean atmosphere, protection from eye-cataracts and respiratory diseases and also provision of Bio-fertilizer, which is direly needed for the improvement and sustenance of fertility of agricultural lands.
This is great news, and complements some major biogas projects that are underway from RSPN and WWF-Pakistan. From what i can gather, these all focus on using animal manure exclusively, and I think there are opportunities to deal with the public health problem of untreated sewage that biogas would manage effectively. In communities in Southern Sindh I interviewed last week, they said they would have no problem with this combination.

But I also understand there is far more energy potential in agricultural waste such as straw (3 times that of cow slurry) and sawdust (6 times that of slurry). So these would be an obvious additional feedstock.
Dear Magnus,

To make the biogas sector sustainable in Pakistan, we would all like to see
multiple players involved in the biogas sector in Pakistan. However, not
everyone that comes along is helping as they should. I have certain issues
with the PCRET project as well.

For one, they heavily subsidize the biogas plants and as research has shown
in Pakistan and in various countries worldwide, high subsidies in this
sector are very harmful. Ask China, they have 35 Million biogas plants (yup
thats 35 followed by 6 zeros) but barely half of them work. They accept the
major problem being high subsidies leading to lack of ownership leading to
failed plants as a major cause for this low functionality rate. Same is the
case with India, although its compounded by the fact that in some cases,
wrong plant design was used and two, lack of quality assurance. Compare
this to SNV led projects, for whom 95-98% functionality is common.

Lack of QA/QC is the second issue i have with PCRET, do they make sure the
ones constructing the plant are doing it properly, who checks on them and
how, what has PCRET done to make sure the plants they build continue
working. Biogas plant users need to be trained to know how the biogas plant
functions, what drives it, what makes it efficient, how to fix minor/issues
etc. None of that is part of their projects.

Without fixing these issues, im afraid these efforts will not only be a
waste of time, they might actually hurt the biogas sector by reaffirming
doubts in peoples mind about the efficacy and benefits of the technology.

I may sound extremely critical, but i feel these are very important aspects
of the biogas sector and wih my goal of developing the sector in Pakistan i
feel pretty disturbed with some of the stuff that goes on.

btw, the PCRET website states they have installed 4,000 biogas plants in
Pakistan but i have yet to find anyone who knows where they have been
installed and when.


Mohammad Sajjad Haider
0302 8555 424 / 0334 998 3467
Dear Sajjad,

Thank you for bringing these important issues to light here. I agree that sound implementation of biogas projects is key to their success and that ownership and training are right at the heart of the matter.

It worries me that governments roll out projects such as this on an impressive scale to meet short-term political targets rather than to establish long-term sustainable benefits for people and the environment.

Kind regards,

Dear Sajjad and Mangnus,

You have raised very serious issues of subsidies, quality control and alternative feedstocks for the installation of biogas in Pakistan. Let me share our experiences from Nepal. The following factors contributed to the succesful implementation of biogas programme in Nepal.

1. Introduction of well proven design and appliances after several years of research and development;
2. Promotional and awareness activities have been carried out at different levels;
3. Financial studies/analysis have been concluded and as a result subsidies have been provided;
4. Technical capabilities have been properly examined and local masons have been trained;
5. Several companies were pre-qualified for the installation and manufacturing og biogas appliances;
6. Quality control /management have been provisioned with a view to maintain the standard of the plants;
7. A good organisational networking; and
8. Availability of both loan and subsidy.

Pakistan has also to consider these issues to run the programme successfully. Regarding the issues of alternative feedstocks you can feed straw also but the process is different. Straw and other agricultural wastes to be fed in batch process where as cattle dung, poultry droppings and night soil can be fed in contineous process.

Hope I have clarified some of the issues that you raised.

with best wishes,

Govinda P. Devkota,
govindadevkota at yahoo.com
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