WISIONS of Sustainability

The main objective of WISIONS is to make clean energy a default solution for basic energy needs in developing regions, by helping local partners to identify successes and bring them to scale through regional networks, marketing and demonstration. Read more about WISIONS activities, goals and background.

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Enhancing Productive Biogas Use in Mexico

News from WISIONS posted on February 4th, 2016

Our SEPS project "Removing barriers to Greenhouse Gas mitigation in medium scale agricultural livestock activities within Mexico" has been successfully concluded. It was implemented by the International Renewable Resources Institute of Mexico (IRRI) with the main aim of demonstrating the feasibility of utilising biogas technology to further mechanise more than one million medium scale farms in Mexico, improve their productivity and efficiency and reduce their environmental burden. Read moreMinimize
The project comprised two main phases. In the first phase, complete productive biogas and water treatment systems were installed at four medium scale livestock farms (two swine farms and two dairy farms). The biogas is used to meet the thermal energy demand at the farms (space heating for swine maternity areas, hot water for cleaning purposes and energy for cooking) and to generate electricity. In addition to the equipment for biogas production and use, all the systems comprise secondary water components that use aquatic and wetland plants in order to further treat the effluents of the biodigesters. This enables farmers to meet national water quality discharge standards. The economic benefits of these systems are calculated based on the value of energy and fertiliser produced per year; in this way a simple return on investment of less than three years is estimated for the demonstration projects.

In the second phase, the project aimed to demonstrate the feasibility of adapting and applying commercial gasoline motors available in the Mexican market in order to provide mechanical and/or electric power to small and medium farmers by using their biogas. In this phase, there were five significant areas of work: biogas filtration, matching energy production and use, motor sizing and design, grid interconnection, and training and maintenance. Sixteen motors have been adapted and installed by IRRI.

The project has already led to significant advances in the application of biogas for small scale electric power (between 5 and 10 kW) and has opened the door to the further development of the technology. All the installed motors are currently under a monitoring and maintenance regime for the next 12 months to improve data on the operating parameters and benefits of these systems.

Grid-Connected Biomass Gasification Plants for Rural Energy Access in Sri Lanka

News from WISIONS posted on October 21st, 2015

One of our SEPS projects in Sri Lanka aims to create an integrated development plan for increasing the income level of the low-income farming communities living in the country’s dry region. The objective is to establish the first ever community-based on-grid wood-gasification power plant in Batagummana, Sri Lanka.Read moreMinimize

One of the central goals of the project is to demonstrate the technical and economical feasibility of selling electricity from a community-based wood-gasification plant under a standardised power purchase agreement with the Ceylon Electricity Board (a state-owned utility). This project will help to build farmers’ confidence in the new technology and on the market for sustainably grown fuel wood; thereby creating an enabling environment for replicating this community-based model in about 10,000 rural villages in Sri Lanka.

After selecting the village of Batugammana, mobilising the local community and establishing business and management models, the implementing organization Energy Forum purchased and installed the "Power Pellet", an automated biomass gasifier which was success fully tested in Sri Lanka for the first time during this project. Several technical issues and regulatory obstacles has been successfully resolved during trials, as a result of which the plant was successfully commissioned in Batugammana. 

Further recent project progress and achievements include 

  • The successful connection of the plant to the national grid
  • The signing of a power purchase agreement with the Ceylon Electricity Board
  • The establishment of a fuel wood supply chain
  • The training and capacity building of plant operators
  • The monitoring of the performance of the plant
The operation of the whole concept (from the biomass supply up to electricity generation and selling) is being monitored. The project is expected to be officially concluded begining of 2016.


Cashew Processing on a Sustainable Basis in Dakoró, Burkina Faso

News from WISIONS posted on February 14th, 2013

In the south west corner of Burkina Faso a cashew nut processing unit is converting to using renewable energies. The processing of cashew nuts is very energy intensive. The cashew nut shells have to be steamed open and the steam is traditionally produced by heating water using fuel wood, which is scarce. Read moreMinimize

In a later stage of the process, the kernel is dried using butane gas to neutralise its poisonous and corrosive oil. With support from SEPS in a project conducted by SNV, the heat produced by fuel wood and butane gas will in future be replaced by the gasification of cashew shells and the combustion of the resultant gas. For that purpose a gasifier and new driers, constructed by the Burkinan enterprise ISOMET, were installed. Once the unit has been fully modified, the process will use 100% renewable energies.

During the visit to the project by a WISIONS team member in November 2012, it was clear that the modification of the process was already in development. At the same time it became evident that some adjustments to the original design had to be made e.g. installing fans to increase the efficiency of the gasifier. However, it is possible to generate the electricity required to power these fans using photovoltaic panels.

These adjustments to the original project concept illustrate the importance of carrying out real experiments on a local level.