• Emergencies: a village has had to be resettled because of a natural disaster. Similar
planning advantages apply as in the first example. Care must be taken here to ensure
that biogas is not misunderstood as an "emergency measure" but as a development
initiative arising out of an emergency situation.
• Changes in infrastructure: an all weather road is to be constructed to link a previously
remote area to the urban center. This will change the prices for building materials, for
charcoal and labor. The cost-efficiency of biogas plants may increase as a result.
• Conservation policies: the area in question will soon be part of a large national park.
The collection of firewood will be largely restricted, the road infrastructure improved
and access to development funds made easier.
• Other technology innovations in the area which have led to disruptions within the
social structure, or which have evoked the fear of disruptions. The result can be a
negative attitude towards technological innovation.
National energy & fertilizer supply strategies
For developing countries, the production of biogas and bio-fertilizer holds the promise of
substituting increasing amounts of imported fossil fuels and mineral fertilizers. On an
economic scale, the importance of digested sludge as a supplementary source of fertilizer is
gradually gaining recognition. As populations continue to grow, there is a corresponding
increase in the demand for food, fertilizers and energy. Consequently, for example in India,
both the production and consumption of chemical fertilizers have been steadily expanding
over the past decades.
According to a recent estimate by Indian experts, the national consumption of mineral
fertilizers could be reduced by 30-35% through the use of digested biogas sludge as
Fertilizer policies, energy policies
For biogas programs, it is crucial,
• to be familiar with official government policies on fertilizers and fuel;
• to be familiar with the realities of implementation of these policies;
• to have a clear understanding of the possibilities and processes of policy change.
This includes an intimate knowledge of persons and institutions involved in possible
If national policies have a strong self-reliance character, involving high import taxation on
mineral fertilizers and fossil fuel, biogas technology will have an easy start. If world market
integration is high on the agenda of national planning, biogas technology will face stiff
competition from imported fuels and fertilizers.
According to available economic data, it may be assumed that (at least in remote, sparsely
settled areas) biogas programs are usually less costly than comparable energy & fertilizer
supply strategies based on fossil resources, like electrification and the production or
importation of chemical fertilizers. The latter strategies involve not only high transmission and
transportation costs, but are also largely dependent on imports.
In any comparison between biogas technology and traditional approaches to the provision of
energy and fertilizer, due consideration should be given to the fact that the continuation or
expansion of the latter would surely magnify the ecological damage that has already been
done and accelerate the depletion of natural resources.
Biogas technology is feasible in principle in most climatic zones under all climatic conditions,
where temperature or precipitation are not too low.