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Biogas could provide solution to energy crisis

14 March 2014, 07:11

Researcher Mengezi Tshuma believes biogas energy could soon provide a solution to overcoming the energy crisis which a number of households in the Eastern Cape are currently facing.

Tshuma, an Eastern Cape Appropriate Technology Unit (ECATU) researcher, said biogas is defined as any gas that is produced when organic matter decomposes as a result of the activity of micro-organisms, which can be used for cooking purposes.

“Cow dung and leftover food can be used to produce biogas energy, by storing them in a digester container, which is placed underground for the breakdown of organic matter,” said Tshuma.

The Eastern Cape province, being home to 38 per cent of the nation’s cattle, 28 per cent of its sheep and 46 per cent of its goat, has an abundance of organic matter in the form of animal waste.

“ECATU’s mandate is to eradicate poverty and spearhead rural development by undertaking applied research and development, adaption, testing and transfer of Appropriate Technologies(AT) that promote sustainable livelihoods,” said Tshuma.

He said for sustainability purposes, these ATs emphasize the use of local resources which are environmentally acceptable, economically viable and culturally or socially feasible for communities.

“One such AT adopted energy that is relevant in terms of improving the energy crisis in the rural communities is that of renewable energy through biogas production for cooking purposes,” he added.

Even though there are some households with access to electricity, recent electricity tariff hikes will make most of them unable to continue affording this form of energy.

Thusma advocates the use of biogas energy because it is an alternative source of energy which is cheaper, and free.

“Once you install the digester container, you can reap the benefits for a long time,” said Tshuma.

ECATU also offers internship programmes and assistance to students from tertiary insitutions who have research studies aligned to ECATU’s mandate.

“Of paramount importance through is how such skills could be transferred to the young generation so that they may own self-sustainable projects, thereby reducing the pressure on government,” added Tshuma.

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