Nepal is increasingly turning to biogas to help reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. To help the country break down barriers to private sector participation in this promising technology, the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) is funding off-grid biogas energy generation. With the Biogas Extended Program, CIF is investing $7.9 million in cooperation with the World Bank, through CIF’s Scaling Up Renewable Energy Program in Low Income Countries (SREP).
Together, they’re helping build biogas capacity across 10 municipalities, construct 340 new biogas plants supplying community facilities and commercial establishments with clean energy and produce enough biogas to fill more than three Olympic-size swimming pools every day. These investments will create several thousand jobs and replace the equivalent of around 131,000 cylinders of imported LPG and some 5,000 tons of imported fertilizer per year.
Envipower Energy & Fertilizer Pvt. Ltd., is one such biogas processing facility in Bhairahawa, Nepal. The first thing you notice about its founding partner Abhirat Agrawal is his grin. Business is good. Along with a handful of employees, mostly highly skilled engineers, he’s helping accelerate Nepal’s transition to a low-carbon economy.
“I’ve wanted to work in renewable energy since I was a university student,” said Agrawal.
Biogas is a sustainable energy source with zero net greenhouse emissions, one that uses an all-natural process called anaerobic digestion to turn waste into clean energy.
When organic matter like manure, food scraps, or sewage decomposes, under certain conditions it produces methane gas. This gas is then processed, sold, and used for cooking, lighting, heating, electricity generation, and even automotive fuel. It is not only better for the environment, it is also more affordable than liquid petroleum gas (LPG).
This technology has another important benefit. Bioslurry, a byproduct of biogas, is a high-nitrogen fertilizer that farmers prize for its quality relative to other fertilizers. This is no small matter in Nepal, where agriculture provides livelihoods for 68 percent of the population and accounts for 34 percent of national GDP.
With an agriculture-based economy and 5.8 heads of livestock and poultry per household – one of the highest ratios of livestock to humans in Asia – Nepal has virtually limitless potential for biogas development.
Envipower is more than an economic enterprise, it is an expression of Agrawal’s patriotism. He is a proud Nepali who decided to start a business in his own country, rather than move to India where he would have been a competitive job candidate.
Agrawal recognized the promise of biogas in an energy-strapped nation of over 26 million: "With enough support, we can have at least one biogas plant in every district of Nepal."
When he succeeds, farmers who sell manure to the biogas facilities grow more prosperous, and Nepal grows more energy-independent. "The future for biogas in Nepal is bright and I am proud to be a part of it."
Elimination of manure storing on farm grounds
Improved sanitation on farms
Reduced smell from manure
Bioslurry produces better yields than other manure fertilizers
Locally produced methane more affordable than imported LPG
Biogas provides electricity during load shedding
m3 per day of gas from 95 projects
¢/kg biogas savings over LPG
tons of bioslurry produced daily
times the yield increase from bioslurry
tons of cooking gas produced daily