Villages can reduce carbon footprint with biogas plants

- CHANDAN KUMAR MANDAL, Kathmandu
Study finds a village emitting over 1000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually can reduce the emission by half using biogas plants

Aug 29, 2017-Even a small village can contribute in reducing emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane, the major drivers of global warming. 

By simply adapting to a new lifestyle that includes minimising use of firewood and setting up biogas plant at their households, a village can significantly reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, a study has suggested. 

The study carried out by researcher duo Das Ram Chaudhary and Ram Asheshwar Mandal for Kathmandu Forestry College under Tribhuvan University has shown that rural areas, where firewood is the major source of energy and emits tonnes of harmful gases, can help in global reduction of greenhouse gases.

The study conducted in Banghushree Village in Dang among 45 sample households has estimated that the annual carbon dioxide and methane emissions of the village was 513.852 tonnes and 21.81 tonnes respectively. Combined together, the village alone emits total 1015.482 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. 

“This is too much of carbon dioxide added every year to our atmosphere and 

contributing in global warming,” said Mandal. 

“It’s happening because our energy source is largely dependent upon traditional sources.”

The study was carried out to assess carbon dioxide and methane emission among households from domestic firewood consumption and livestock rearing. 

The research has also shown that carbon dioxide production differs according to family size and their status. 

For instance, the highest average annual carbon dioxide emitter family, with less than four members, was rich family with 2.8 tonnes. A poor family with same family size generated 1.7517 tonnes of  carbon dioxide.  

Similarly, among families with four to six and more than six members, average annual carbon dioxide production were recorded at 3.83 tonnes and 7.28 tonnes per households in rich families respectively, whereas lowest emission were 2.85 tonnes and 4.72 tonnes per poor families. 

“It was found that rich households with high number of family members contribute more carbon dioxide gases, because they cook many items which require extra combustion of firewood,” said Chaudhary.

Likewise, rich and poor families with less than four members burned the highest 7.77 kg carbon dioxide per households while lowest emission was 4.87kg per households.

In total, rich families having family member more than six were highest emitter i.e.145.63 tonnes annually and poor families with same number of members generated only 23.60 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

Emission of methane, another greenhouse gas, was highest-- 3.724 tonnes annually-- among middle class families with less than four members. Poor families with same number were the lowest emitter in the village with 0.611 tonnes of methane emission.   

Although rural households generate high amount of carbon dioxide, the study has suggested that these carbon footprints can be minimised through installation of biogas plants at least among households with domestic animals. 

“This result represents our overall pattern of energy consumption in our rural areas. Villagers should turn to other alternative energy sources like biogas,” said Mandal. 

The study has claimed that overall carbon dioxide emission in Banghushree village could be reduced to 505.97 tonnes annually with installation of biogas plants. 

“If we can set up biogas plant in this village or any rural areas it can greatly reduce such emission as the dung of cow, ox, buffalo and pig can be used for biogas, thus minimising burning of firewood,” said Chaudhary. 

Researchers claim that this can be followed throughout the country. 

While country’s climate change-related policies are driven towards bringing down dependency on biomass energy, little has been done to that end, according to Mandal.  

“Shifting to biogas and other clean energy is the need of the hour. This study has shown how even a small village can make difference towards decreasing greenhouse gases production,” said Mandal.      

Over 77 per cent of energy consumption of Nepal is supplied by combined traditional biomass energy, which includes firewood, cattle dung and agricultural residue, according to the National Population and Housing Census 2011. 

However, of total energy consumption, renewable energy coming from solar, biogas, wind and off-grid micro hydropower account for only 3 per cent. 

Published: 29-08-2017 07:22

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