Bioenergy through densification for sustainable rural development

Wednesday, 10 October 2018 12:40 Written by 
  • Location(s): Egypt
  • Type(s): Solution
  • Theme(s): Environment, Sustainable Development
  • SDG(s): 11. Sustainable cities and communities, 13. Climate Action
  • Locations in the Arab States: Egypt
  • Types in the Arab States: Solution
  • Themes in the Arab States: Environment, Sustainable Development
  • SDGs in the Arab States: 11. Sustainable cities and communities, 13. Climate Action
  • Types of ComSec Solutions: Solution

In rural areas in Egypt, there has been a marked shift from the use of agriculture residues and dung cakes for cooking, baking and water heating to the use of kerosene and LPG cylinders (butane gas). About 55% of households use LPG cylinder; about 69% use kerosene and about 17% use agricultural residues.

The recent surveys carried out in 1700 households in rural areas of Assuit Governorate and 1500 households in Fayoum have indicated that in average 2-3 LPG cylinders and 20-25 liters of kerosene is used per month for cooking and water heating in each household.  The amount of agricultural residues used is about 50 bundles (about 150 kg) per household each month for cooking and baking.

Solution: Densification (briquetting) is one of the means of combating the environmental problems related to the uncontrolled burning of crop residues. Densification is a physical process whereby materials such as biomass are compacted under high pressure into a uniform shape (i.e. briquettes or pellets). The density of the material increases enormously; from bulk densities of 100-200 kg per m3 to massive densities of around 1.2 kg/l. Densification introduces large benefits for logistics (transport and storage), use of the biomass (e.g. in hearths or fixed bed gasifiers), and hygienisation (seeds and insects are killed in the process). Due to the somewhat lower moisture content in comparison to the raw material, the calorific value may be somewhat higher (16-17 MJ/kg). The main drawback is the energy use of the process (around 100 kWhe/tonne).

Hence, the use of anaerobic digestion, which is the process of microbiological decomposition of (wet) biomass into methane and carbon dioxide (biogas). It takes place in strict absence of oxygen and usually requires a (very) watery environment. Although anaerobic digestion can be used for a range of applications (e.g. wastewater treatment, processing of municipal organic wastes), the most relevant for rural areas is digestion of animal dung. Such digester systems are available for use in households (upward from several heads of livestock), but also for larger communities (dozens of heads of livestock) and farms (hundreds to thousands of heads). The digested effluent is a very suitable (and valuable) fertilizer for agriculture. The gas produced can either be used directly for cooking or water heating or, in larger plants, for electricity generation.

The briquettes can be stored and distributed as a household fuel. Based on order-of magnitude estimates of investments and operational costs, the production costs per tons of briquettes are estimated at 140-160 LE/t.

Goals and objectives: In 2012, the Bioenergy for Sustainable Rural Development Project has been established through the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency – EEAA/ Ministry of Environment, in coordination with the Ministry of Petroleum, the Ministry of Electricity and Energy, the Ministry of International Cooperation and the Ministry of Local Development, with the objective of i) promoting sustainable rural development in Egypt and environmentally sound management of agricultural and solid waste, ii) removing technical, institutional, media, financial and other market barriers of increasing the use of biomass energy, iii) reducing the negative environmental impacts associated with the use of fossil and waste.

Implementation: The project received partial funding from the GEF, in cooperation with the United Nations Development Program and the Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs.

The project supports poor villages at the two levels; individual - for each family and community level - through cooperation with NGOs. Geographically, the project has focused on the villages of Al-Mazaty in Fayoum Governorate and Awlad Elias in Assiut Governorate. As Assuit and Fayoum have the lowest human development index in Egypt and the highest unemployment.

In the first phase, the project built 100 units in Assuit and Fayoum. All units of the 1st stage are fully financed by the project to disseminate the idea and make real and concrete project/ units for the eyes of the farmers to believe and see benefits. They are distributed widely in the two selected villages in the targeted governorates. They fully attracted the beneficiaries and their neighbors as potential beneficiaries. During the installation of the units, a group of engineers and masons are trained in the field are capable to provide the same service to find one of the main factors of the market, namely, the service providers.

In the second phase, the project built 1300 units in all Egyptian governorates. The units are partially financed by the beneficiaries themselves as a second step towards the maturity of market. The beneficiaries are requested to provide his animal waste as well as digging a pit and providing a list of material; bricks, sand and two helpers in unskilled workers. During this phase more than 20 start-up companies were registered after training their engineers and masons to be real entrepreneurs capable to provide the service professionally and meet the market requirements.

Achievements:

  • The Bioenergy Development Fund (BDF) successfully established and launched.
  • Developed and adopted product standards and quality control mechanisms with other initiatives coordinating financial and fiscal incentive mechanisms to facilitate sustainable development of bioenergy technologies.
  • Developed an adequate legal and regulatory framework for technical standards, quality control and business relations between the commercial or semi-commercial bioenergy service providers and their customers.
  • Enhanced capacity of the local supply chain to market and deliver sustainable rural bioenergy products and services.
  • Provided an alternative cost-effective energy source to rural population compared to competing energy sources.
  • The local environment is improved (parasites are sterilized during the biomass fermentation process, so health conditions are improved particularly poor farmers and their families).
  • The project enhanced awareness of the general public through programs and articles in public media and workshops.

Partners: The Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Egyptian Government, UNDP, the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency, in coordination with the Ministry of Petroleum, the Ministry of Electricity and Energy, the Ministry of International Cooperation and the Ministry of Local Development.

Contact details: 
Mailing Address: South-South Development Academy: 6th Ibn Maysser st., off Mahmoud Azmy st., Zamalek
Tel: +20 2737 5086/7/8/9
Fax: +20 27375084 ext. 127
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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