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Small-Scale Biogas Digester for Sustainable Energy Production in Sub-Saharan Africa
1 , * 2 , * 3, 4
1  James Hutton Institute
2  School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen
3  Centre for Research in Energy and Energy Conservation, Makerere Unversity
4  Green Heat, Uganda

Published: 02 November 2011 by MDPI in The 1st World Sustainability Forum session Renewable Energy Self-Sufficiency
Abstract: Interest in use of small scale biogas digesters in rural communities of Sub-Saharan Africa to generate cooking fuel, and to treat and utilise organic wastes is increasing, with numerous organisations promoting their use for both socioeconomic and environmental reasons. Small-scale biogas digesters have great potential to contribute to sustainable development by providing a wide variety of socioeconomic benefits, including diversification of energy (cooking fuel) supply, enhanced regional and rural development opportunities, and creation of a domestic industry and employment opportunities. Potential environmental benefits include reduction of local pollutants, reduced deforestation due to logging for fuel, and increased sequestration of carbon in soils amended with the digested organic waste. Ecosystem services that are potentially delivered through implementation of biogas digesters in rural communities are carbon sequestration, improved water quality and increased food production. Carbon can be directly sequestered in the soil through application of soil organic matter originating from the digested material. Indirect carbon sequestration can also be achieved through reduced carbon losses due to logging as household fuel is replaced by methane produced by the digester. Replacement of household fuel by biogas has added benefits to household air quality. Water quality can be improved through reduced runoff of waste material and reduced erosion of sandy soils due to stabilisation of the soil through increased input of organic matter. Food production can be improved by application to the soil of digested material containing readily available nutrients. The productivity of the soil can also be improved through improved soil structure and water holding capacity achieved by the organic amendments of digested material to the soil.
Keywords: Biogas, Food Production