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Prospects bright for Pak-China biogas cooperation

By Wang Kai | China Economic Net Dec 16, 2021

CHENGDU, Dec 16 (China Economic Net) -“Pakistani rural areas have huge biomass reserves, producing 12 million cubic meters of methane per day. But the realization of the full potential of biogas is slow and uptake is occurring at different rates depending on the available sources. As a result, the biogas energy supply is generally very low compared with other sources of energy”, said Farooq Khurum Shehzad, a Ph.D. graduate in chemistry of the Beijing University of Chemical Technology and currently Assistant Professor of the University of Engineering and Technology, Multan.

It has been the second time for him to participate in the training workshop on biogas promotion and management organized by Biogas Institute of Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (BIOMA), a leading institute specialized in biogas technology and rural environmental treatment in China and a FAO-certified training center.

According to Mr. Wang Dengshan, Director General of the Institute, twelve Pakistani people from universities, government official, research institutes, and enterprises took part in the workshop, an indication of expedited cooperation between the two countries on biogas technology.

“Biogas has not become the subject of interest to many because we have natural gas reserve and access to the world’s largest natural gas reserve in Qatar and Iran which is cheaper than biogas”, explained Farooq. However, biogas has its irreplaceable advantages. Apart from being burned in boilers as natural gas, it can also produce electricity and heat and be used as fuel for vehicles and bio manure for crops after treatment.

Compared with natural gas which mainly comes from oil and coal mine exploration, biogas is a renewable resource with continuous production-and-use cycle, and it generates zero net carbon dioxide. By consuming wastes from crops and livestock and producing energy at the same time, it is acclaimed as “the only zero-carbon fuel in real sense of all renewable sources”.

 “It cannot be substituted for its function in environment conservation, especially in rural areas”, said Mr. Wang. “Less waste will be burned or dumped, and the biogas residue or slurry can be further reused, as fertilizers, for example, thus restore and preserve rural environment”.

Pakistan has over 5000 installed biogas plants across the country which save an average of PKR 455 million annually in terms of kerosene oil, wood, liquefied petroleum gas and bio-fertilizer.

“But the cost of biogas technology nearly doubles that of natural gas. While the monthly fee of natural gas per household is about RMB 10-25, that of biogas may reach RMB 50-65”, Farooq said.

In this regard, Farooq recommends mutual solutions by the global community. “The environment is shared by all. Pollution is a global problem and requires concerted efforts”, he told China Economic Net (CEN).

As energy shortage and climate change have become global ailments, Pak-China cooperation on bio-technology is gaining pace.

In China, an estimation shows that about 30% of the rural households suitable for biogas equipment have been benefiting from the technology, saving RMB 40 billion of expenditure on fertilizers per year.

Responding to the call for cleaner energy, BIOMA has invested in a digester installation project made from glass fiber reinforced plastics in Punjab by providing equipment and technologies. According to Mr. Wang, Over 100 digesters have reached the site and another 700 are in the pipeline. In the future, local households will get access to the clean energy and biogas manure produced from the facility.

As early as 2015, BIOMA signed an MoU with the University of Agriculture Faisalabad on biogas technology cooperation. Since then, the two sides have been conducting academic and technological exchanges.

"Advances in gas cleanup and conversion technology such as digesters and gasifiers will expand the amount of feedstock that can be economically converted", said Farooq.

"Taking a step further, it is extremely important to develop the technologies indigenously for the low price and sustainability of the technology".

To maximize Pakistan’s biogas utilization, Farooq believes that public awareness is the initial step and very crucial in making the sustainable energy program successful. Also, research is necessary in renewable energy technology and human-resource development. Basic infrastructure for the R&D and deployment of renewable energy technology should be put in place for commercialization, decentralized delivery system, and market development. Moreover, to see how successfully the program has been implemented, it is of great importance to monitor each step and evaluate the data and findings. In this regard, appropriate monitoring and evaluation tools should be used.

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