RedBioLAC

Network of Biodigesters for Latin America and the Caribbean (RedBioLAC)

RedBioLAC is a network of institutions involved in the applied research and advocacy of biodigesters for the treatment and management of organic waste, as a strategy for improving the wellbeing of the Latin American and Caribbean people.

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Productive Use of Biogas at Dairy and Pig Farms in Costa Rica

News from WISIONS posted on June 2nd, 2017

One of our SEPS projects takes an innovative approach to the productive use of biogas at dairy and pig farms in Costa Rica. It aims to replace electric motors with biogas-powered engines to operate milking machines and forage choppers, and provide heat from biogas-fired heating lamps for the piglets.Read moreMinimize

This project is led by local partners Viogaz. Their recent work includes the successful identification of farmers aiming to participate in the programme and the assessment of farms to serve as pilot project sites. Via surveys and other analyses, the farmers’ needs for biodigesters could be determined, as well as their potential applications of the new technology.

As Viogaz is a partner of Kiva Microfunds, an organisation which allows people to lend money to low-income entrepreneurs, they were able to offer a financing option to the selected farmers, helping them implement the anaerobic technology (biodigesters).

Furthermore, Viogaz designed the appropriate biodigestion system for each user, taking a variety of factors into consideration. Most of the systems have already been installed, and all the installed digesters have started operating. All the users have been trained on how to run and maintain the biodigesters.

The next working steps of this project include monitoring the systems and connecting the technology to its designated end uses, as well as further testing, validation and training sessions.

More general information on this project is available here: Validating a Novel Approach to the Productive Use of Biogas to Empower Medium Scale Dairy and Pig Farmers in Costa Rica


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Activities

Since its inception in 2009, the network has become a lively platform for knowledge exchange between more than 300 participants. Currently there are three channels for these exchanges:

Annual Conference

The 9th RedBioLAC annual conference will take place from 6th to 10th November 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. More information is available on the event's website (in Spanish only).

The 8th RedBioLAC annual conference took place from 7th to 11th November 2016 at the Instituto Interamericano de Cooperación para la Agricultura (IICA) in San José, Costa Rica. It was supported by WISIONS.

More information, including a detailed programme of last year's event, is available on RedBioLAC's website (in Spanish only). This short video summarises the network meeting.

Eight conferences have so far taken place. This annual opportunity to meet and interact intensively with experts from all around the region is a central component for sustaining the impetus of the knowledge sharing process. Most of the presentations and memories from the conferences are available in the  network's online library. Various photos of RedBioLAC's annual conferences are available on Facebook here.

Online Platform and library

The network's website www.redbiolac.org (Spanish only) offers different options for participation and for accessing a myriad of information. Currently more than 300 people are subscribed to the online platform. Particularly useful is the discussion forum, which has become a rich source of knowledge on anaerobic digestion as applied in the Latin American and Caribbean contexts.

The online library is divided into four sections:

  • Information on previous annual conferences
  • Documents about biodigestion in Latin America and the Caribbiean, including manuals, national biogas plans, research results, project reports, companies etc. (in Spanish)
  • Information about the mutual exchanges that have taken place to date
  • Videos

Mutual exchange of knowledge

Since 2013 peer-to-peer knowledge exchanges between experts in the region have been supported. These are activities where experts with extensive biodigester experience gained in one country travel to another country or sub-region to provide emergent biodigester initiatives with more extensive hands-on training, technology transfer and/or business model development. Information about these exchanges can be found on the network’s webpage. To date, two exchange activities have been completed:

Exchange: Alterna (Guatemala) – Viogaz (Costa Rica) 2014

Joaquín Víquez, a biogas expert from the company Viogaz in Costa Rica, visited Alterna, an NGO working in Guatemala, in order to strengthen the technical capacities of the team. More details of this inspiring exchange can be found  here. The complete report in Spanish is available for download here. The complete report in English is available for download here.

Exchange: Bolivia – Ecuador 2013

Jaime Marti, a biodigester expert from Bolivia, spent three weeks in 2013 with different stakeholders in Ecuador, working to evaluate and improve the use and promotion of biodigesters through a combination of field visits, workshops and meetings. More details of this interesting exchange can be found here, and the executive summary report of the results is available for download here. The complete report in Spanish is available for download here.

SEPS exchange activities – linked to RedBioLAC

In the last calls for SEPS project support WISIONS selected two exchange activities from members of RedBioLAC:

Dragón de la Nueva Flama – Dragon of the New Flame

Exchange and capacity-building in energy alternatives for food production

Background

Under the framework of a former SEPS project (Biogas Digester Innovations In Latin America (SEPS 5) a workshop took place in Cajamarca, Peru, in May 2009, which focused on sharing experiences on the use of biodigesters in Latin America. The lively and valuable discussions demonstrated the huge potential for mutual learning and for finding solutions. From the impetus of that first exchange the idea emerged to establish a network to promote knowledge sharing between research, development and advocacy groups involved with biogas technologies in Latin America and the Caribbean.

During a second meeting in 2010 (this time at EARTH University in Costa Rica), the network was formalised and the first strategic plan of RedBioLAC was developed. Since then the network has been active in promoting and disseminating research, development and the implementation of biodigesters as a valid technical option for the management of natural resources and for improving the wellbeing of the Latin American and Caribbean people.

Coordination and support

The network is supported by several organisations, one of which is the WISIONS initiative. The coordinating person is Mariela Pino. 

The network secretariat is run by the organisation GreenEmpowerment, who initiated the SEPS project and network.