Climate change is having a major impact in Nepal. The glaciers in the Himalayas are melting and the monsoon season is changing. Deforestation to obtain firewood increases the risk of soil erosion, which in turn increases the risk of landslides and floods.
Wood, which is used as an energy source for cooking, needs to be replaced to counteract deforestation.
Biowaste replaces firewood
The PoA Nepal Biogas Support Program has a solution for this. They manufacture and sell biogas plants for household electricity to poor farmhouses across the country.
The plant is fed with a mixture of agricultural waste or feces and water, through the pipes to the household gas stove. This provides families with a smoke-free energy source that replaces firewood when cooking.
Subsidies and microfinance institutions
The average cost of a biogas plant is just over USD 600. To ensure that households can afford them, users across the country can receive subsidies through Atmosfair's partner AEPC as well as loans through an extensive network of microfinance institutions. These can cover 80 percent of the costs of a biogas plant. The remaining 20 percent is financed by the user himself, which makes them the owners of the facility.
Reduced deforestation and reduced emissions
A biogas plant saves approximately 3,300 kg of wood per year. This prevents deforestation and reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 3.5 tonnes per plant and year. By reducing the need for firewood in Nepal, the Biogas Support Program also contributes to climate adaptation, by preserving biodiversity and preventing erosion.
The project is located in the Tonk district of the state of Rajasthan in northwestern India. Rajasthan is home to some of the driest areas in India, including the Thar Desert. The economy here is dependent on agriculture, animal husbandry and textile production. Income is among the lowest in India, and small farmers produce barely enough to survive.
In the dry climate, the mustard plant is the most important crop. Shells and stalks, which are left over when mustard is processed to extract mustard oil, were previously seen as useless waste, and were incinerated.
Useless waste becomes renewable electricity
Atmosfair, together with its Indian partner Kalpataru Power Transmission Limited (KPTL), has built an 8 MW biomass power plant, which uses mustard waste to produce electricity. The waste is incinerated by direct incineration and then produces water vapor in a steam boiler. The steam drives a turbine and generator that produces electricity for the regional grid, and thus replaces electricity from coal and gas-fired plants.
To date, more than 3,000 small farmers have sold mustard waste to the power plant - what was previously seen as worthless waste.
Large reduction in carbon dioxide emissions
2019 was a good year for the project. The plant supplied the Indian grid with 51,527 tonnes of renewable electricity, thus saving 49,415 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. Emission savings increased by 15% from 2018.