Biogas as a Source of Rural Energy
The hilly state of Himachal Pradesh, with nearly 2.15 million cattle and 0.7 million buffalo, has the potential to install 0.64 million biogas plants of 1 m3 size. These plants could generate nearly 4.90 = 105 m3 of biogas, equivalent to 3.07 x 105 L kerosene per day to meet domestic energy needs of nearly one-fourth of its rural population. During 1982-1998, only 12.8% of this potential was achieved. The percent of possible potential achieved in plant installations in 12 districts of this state, namely, Bilaspur, Chamba, Hamirpur, Kangra, Kinnaur, Kullu, Lahul-Spiti, Mandi, Shimla, Sirmour, Solan, and Una, are 35.35, 1.70, 20.96, 8.67, 1.54, 6.96, 0.00, 18.49, 3.84, 8.521, 18.29, and 13.23%, respectively. There is a need to strengthen biogas promotion, particularly in the districts of Kangra, Mandi, Solan, and Una, which range from mid-hill to low-hill terrain and which have large potential due to high concentration of bovine population. Increased costs and comparatively low rate of subsidies has resulted in a decreasing rate of plant installation annually, from 3500 during 1987-1992 to fewer than 1200 during 1995-1998. The percentage of functioning plants was 82% in 1987-1988 but has decreased to 63%. To ensure proper installation and functionality of plants, we discuss the needed improvements in the biogas promotion program.
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