To provide clean cooking fuel at village level while improving income opportunities and giving appropriate treatment to crop residues
International Energy Initiative Asia (IEI)
First project phase: 02/2012 - 01/2014 Upscaling phase: 07/2014 - approx. 09/2015
Small plots of farmland (less than 2.5 acres (1 ha)) are the main livelihood asset for many rural families in India. Several constraints, such as a lack of irrigation and access to appropriate finance services, lead to low productivity levels and subsistence agriculture. At the same time, the combustion of solid biomass in inefficient stoves is still the main cooking option in rural India. The Asian Regional Energy Initiative of the IEI demonstrated one option to address these and other pressing issues by integrating two main measures: a) the establishment of banana plantations using micro-irrigation and other sustainable farming methods and b) the development of a village biogas distribution system, fed by biogas generated from the plantations' organic residues.
Four small farms near the village of Gundigere (in south-east Karnataka) were selected for establishing banana plantations of 1.5 acres (0.6 ha) each. Two floating drum biodigesters produce biogas mainly from banana stalks and non-productive stems from the plants. Through a network of pipelines, the biogas is distributed to 70 households and used for cooking purposes.
The project was undergoing an upscaling phase, which formed part of the original contract. More information can be found at the bottom of this page.
Technology, Operations and MaintenanceSecuring water supply was central for the operation of both the plantations and the biogas distribution system. To achieve this, two wells were drilled and one 7.5 Hp (5.6 kW) submersible water pump, as well as corresponding piping and valves, were installed. Establishing the plantations involved several soil preparation measures, the installation of piping systems for drip-irrigation and the planting of saplings obtained from a local agricultural agency. In order to secure a regular supply of bananas throughout the year (and, as a result, a constant flow of income and substrate) planting was carried out in several installments. Two digesters of 35 m3 gasholder capacity were constructed. These are fed with stems from the banana plants, which first have to be chopped manually into cubes of ca. 2 cm. Biogas is distributed to 70 houses through networks of rigid PVC pipes with a total length of 600 m. Families purchased a two burner gas stove of their choice from markets in nearby towns.
A cooperative was formed for taking over the operation and management of the established systems. The cooperative consists of one representative from each village family. "Share-cropping" agreements were created with the four owners of the land where the banana plantations were established. In return for the improvements made to their land, the landowners have to deposit 50% of their net revenue from selling the bananas into the cooperative's bank account for the first seven years of operation. The supply of biogas to each household is linked to a monthly flat tariff of about €2.86. Additional revenues may eventually result from the sale of the digester effluents as organic fertilizer. This combination of cash inflows enables the cooperative to keep the biogas supply tariff low. The monthly tariff covers operational and maintenance costs, while the share of banana sales revenue covers a large proportion of the capital costs.
Currently, four people are employed to operate and maintain the system. They have been trained in all the daily tasks required for the maintenance and continuous operation of the digesters and biogas supply, as well as in keeping records of operational parameters and monthly biogas supply payments. In addition to these permanent jobs, the operation of the plantation involves labour-intensive activities. This creates seasonal jobs for the local population, particularly at harvest time.
During the first year of harvest (between January and August 2013) around 63 tonnes of bananas were sold. This generated approximately €9,500 for the cooperative from the "share-cropping" agreement.
By the end of December 2013 all 70 houses had been connected to the biogas distribution network. By the conclusion of the project implementation phase, the biogas was supplied for 9 hours per day: 4 hours each morning and evening and 1 hour in the afternoon. This already meets most cooking needs and the users have expressed their satisfaction. It is anticipated that the biogas supply period will be increased even further in future.
After the successful implementation of the first project phase, WISIONS continued to support IEI in its aim to scale up the demonstrated concept in a second phase. The main objectives of the upscaling activities from 2014 until 2016 included: