The promotion of small and medium-scale enterprise (SMEs) participation in institutional biogas technology penetration has been identified as one of the five key priority energy related National Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) in Ghana. This is in line with the country’s pursuit for low carbon development options which is identified in the national climate change policy (2014) as well as the sustainable development objectives articulated in the Ghana Shared Growth Development Agenda (GSGDA). To bring biogas as a low carbon energy source to a significant higher level in Ghana, the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) action plan intends to establish institutional biogas systems for 200 boarding schools, hospitals and prisons. At least 400 biogas systems have been built in Ghana, pre-dominantly using the fixed-dome, floating drum and Puxin technologies. The main reason to build a biogas systems is to improve the sanitation situation. Although there are several issues with existing biogas systems, many of these systems are functioning well. To ensure long term sustainability, specific attention has been paid to;
- Development and enforcement of standards for biogas digesters and quality control of system design, construction and maintenance
- Financial commitment from buyers / beneficiaries throughout the system lifetime, ensuring both maintenance and proper operation.
Biogas sanitation systems provide many social and environmental benefits
Implementing biogas systems for sanitation purposes and in addition use the produced biogas for cooking and the effluent for irrigation and fertilizing creates a range of social and environmental benefits for institutions and the society as a whole. The challenges and risks that need to be addressed when implementing institutional biogas on a large scale are:
- Education of users (use of biogas and use of the system)
- Ensuring no harmful pathogens are in the effluent
- Ensuring the biogas is used and not emitted without flaring.
Biogas systems are Economically Viable
There seems to be a business case for biogas digester systems as an alternative for the currently used septic tank systems for prisons, hospitals and boarding schools. This is especially the case if a new system has to be built (“Green Field”). The payback period for such systems is less than 2 years. For institutions that wish to substitute their septic tank with a biogas system, the payback period ranges from 1-6 years for the best case scenarios. To improve the reliability of the cost-benefit analysis, additional data gathering is needed