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Focus areas: Mitigation; Adaptation
Location: New Delhi, India
Established: July 2012

‘Project-FUEL’ seeks to encourage the adoption of biogas plants among the urban poor in India. The biogas plants consume organic waste that otherwise would decompose in open air, generating methane and water pollution. The biogas can be used as low-carbon renewable energy cooking fuel, thereby replacing fuel-wood based burners. Despite the economic and environmental benefits of biogas, its use in cooking is less than 1% in urban poor areas. To promote the uptake of biogas plants among the urban poor, the ‘Project-FUEL’ has adopted a 180-degree approach. As a first step, the activity established an adoption ground where a sample biogas plant was installed. A team of student volunteers has been trained in the biogas plant technology and its benefits. These volunteers then engage the urban-poor community members and demonstrate to them how to use the biogas based cooking burner to cook their food. The activity then funds biogas plant and associated burners to interested community members, but only after ensuring that they are committed to the use of the plant.

While in operation, biogas plant produces an odorless effluent that has high content of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium and is used as a fertilizer. NGO partner recollects the effluent and recovers the investment by selling this highly rich fertilizer for organic farming.

Mitigation / Adaptation

Social and environmental benefits

Potential for scaling-up and replication

Replacing fuel-wood with bio gas fuel provides an important tool in the efforts to mitigate climate change. Not only does it reduce the production of harmful CO2 and its negative impact on health, but also helps avoid deforestation.

In a community with 1000 plants, 5 tonnes of waste that would otherwise end up in landfills can be avoided daily. Further, each plant directly avoids emission of approximately 1500 kg a year of carbon dioxide equivalent methane through anaerobic digestion. Installation of 1000 such plants in a community has a potential to reduce 1500 tonnes a year of methane emissions in urban land-fills. There are further savings from the reduction of methane produced from the uncontrolled decomposition of waste.

Urban-poor areas are surrounded by waste dumps, which generate harmful gases and help spread diseases. Usage of waste from these dumps in biogas plants will reduce the open decaying, help clean the areas and provide a health and clean environment.

Improved access to fuel and reduction in the time spent on collection of firewood.

Improvement in hygiene and reductions in diseases as a result of latrines that are part of the biogas digesters.

The activity has been designed to be sustainable and scalable. Biogas plants that the activity promotes are pre-fabricated, readily available and affordable. Initial funds have been raised to provide the biogas plants at no cost to individuals who commit to continuous operation of the plant. The by-product effluent generated by the biogas plant will be collected by the NGO partner and will be sold for organic farming to generate additional funds. These additional funds will complement the outside funding to sponsor additional plants. The activity is currently at its beginning. It is believed that word-of-mouth will encourage adoption of biogas plants at a transformational scale once a tipping point of 10-15 plants per community is reached. The model will promote the local processing of the biodegradable waste and hence will reduce the pressure on landfills.
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