Small biogas plants in Tanzania

Millions of people in Africa live without electricity. Women and young girls have to spend hours on foot searching for wood so they can build a fire for cooking. To improve the living conditions of these people, the BayWa Foundation in cooperation with the German Engineers Without Borders association and the local MAVUNO Projects organisation has been developing biogas plants in Tanzania since 2010 in order to provide families in Africa with energy for cooking and lighting.

How it all began: Study in Germany

In order to simulate the African climate, the plant was built in a greenhouse on the campus of the University of Hohenheim. To guarantee sustainable benefit, the students tested the biogas plant for optimal functionality for around 3 months. The students were given the opportunity to manage their own research work and use their knowledge practically.

True to the motto “Education is the cornerstone of our future”, the BayWa Foundation provided financial support to the young students’ research project in the field of renewable energy.  

 

Directly on-site: First installation in Tanzania

After the simulation plant had been evaluated and optimised in Germany, the first plant was installed in Tanzania in the summer of 2010. The gas is produced by the plant in a cost-effective, clean and technically simple way and provides a Tanzanian household with 6 hours of energy for cooking and 4 hours of lighting per day. The remainder of the fermented materials can in turn be used as high-quality fertiliser in the self-owned plantations. Additionally, the burning of biogas is much cleaner than wood. This prevents the development of harmful smoke from open fireplaces in the kitchens.

The population is being trained thoroughly on-site as to the establishment and maintenance of these plants. For education is the only means of achieving the goal of helping people to help themselves in the long term. The findings from this plant and another pilot biogas plant are expected to result in many families being supplied with energy in the long term. For this to be achieved, several workshops are being held with the population to address their needs and concerns in order to find common solutions.

 

A project grows in size: Biogas and education for Tanzania

Following the installation of the two pilot plants, it was possible to successfully complete the research work in 2014. It has shown that the mini biogas plants are a complete success in providing clean energy. And that the project must be continued. In the meantime, eight more biogas plants have been built for private households. An institutional plant has also been established at the Chonyonyo Secondary Girls School in Kagera. The use of biogas technology at the school is valuable in many ways. The young girls receive a warm meal every day and at the same time experience what the term “renewable energy” really means. In a technology workshop, the girls learn about how the plant works and how it is maintained.

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