Rural India and Nepal are dominated by traditional energy sources such as fuel wood, crop residues and animal dung contributing to an overall high national energy consumption.
The use of firewood as an energy source is highest, followed by agriculture and livestock residues. More than 60 percent of India's population and 80 percent of Nepal's population reside in rural communities which rely heavily upon on traditional energy sources.
As an alternative to traditional forms of energy, bio-gas plants can help in conserving millions of trees per year, saving thousands of litres of kerosene per year as well as produce tonnes of compost and fertilisers while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In India and Nepal, fixed dome below-ground bio gas plants are usually used. This type of design can be constructed almost entirely using locally available materials such as clay, brick, cement, bamboo, wooden supports etc.
Regardless of its potential as an energy output, bio-gas has only been used in very small quantities in both India and Nepal. Despite having such huge prospects and benefits for both countries; its utilisation and practice still remains at an extremely low level even in the areas where the potential for use is great. All the research and studies have only shown the huge prospects and benefits of bio-gas in rural sectors of India and Nepal but no studies have been carried out to determine why uptake of bio-gas remains so low.
Methods of popularising and promoting its benefits in order to create awareness among the public have to date been inadequate and the government should formulate friendly policies and programmes that encourage people to use bio-gas technology.
A recommended first step would be to undertake a detailed study which should update the information regarding the potential and current status of bio-gas installation in rural communities in India and Nepal. The study should also present the various benefits and impacts derived from installation of bio-gas in these areas.
Author: Ajay Singh Chabba and Govind Dahal/ RESET editorial