In many areas of Grenada, organic waste from farming, livestock and beverage production is mainly dumped in watercourses or burned on site.
These unsustainable waste management practices adversely affect sensitive ecosystems like soil, rivers or the marine environment, which are important natural assets the country needs to preserve. Furthermore, Grenada is committed to reducing its CO2 emissions by increasing the share of renewable energy in its energy mix.
Biogas systems provide a solution to both the increase in renewable energy production and a sustainable management solution for organic waste as it uses organic waste to produce biogas and biofertiliser.
In order to create an enabling environment for biogas technology, the pilot project “Market Creation for Small-Scale Biogas Systems in Grenada (MacBioS)” started in 2015 and has since then provided significant changes in the farms on which it has been implemented.
The project was designed to address the obstacles for the dissemination of decentralised, small-scale biogas solutions like the availability of high-quality systems on the Grenadian market, the expertise for installation, operation and maintenance, and the access to finance.
The closing ceremony of the project, held on Wednesday, 28 November 2018 at Belmont Estate, one of the farms on which a pilot system was installed, presented an excellent opportunity for the project’s beneficiaries to share their experiences and successes with parties interested in the operation and/or purchase of such a system.
Over the 2½ year period of the project, a total of 12 biogas systems were installed in Grenada and Carriacou, of which 8 were installed at pilot sites within the project, and 4 on commercial basis. An additional 3 systems were installed in St Vincent on commercial basis, and all the installations were performed by a Grenadian installation and maintenance team.
Dieter Rothenberger, Head of GIZ, the German International Cooperation, Grenada noted that although some spare parts and equipment are still difficult to find in Grenada, the HoMethan system has proven a very resilient, technically well-developed system.
The training of local capacity on the installation and maintenance of the systems was a major focus of the project. Hence, local technical partners, farmers and end-users were trained on installation, operation and maintenance of biogas systems. A biogas basics and biogas technology course for educating agricultural and science students and other interested persons was developed. This was introduced in a 4-day Training of Trainers workshop to which lecturers from TAMCC, NEWLO, SGU, and other learning institutions participated.
Access to finance for farmers can be a challenge. Therefore, the project also engaged in discussions with local lending institutions in order to develop financing products to enable farmers to invest in a system that will save them money in the long term. The Grenada Development Bank has opened its special funding window for energy efficiency and renewable energy for farmers who are interested in installing a biogas system.
Financing mechanisms are possible since the biogas systems, beside their positive environmental impacts, are also providing a business case. Indeed, farmers can save on their running expenses as they use the products of their biogas system: gas for cooking (household or catering use), for agro-processing (eg cooking stews and jams, baking, drying of fruits and spices, production of plantain chips) or for slaughtering (for poultry). The digestate (biofertiliser) is then used on the farm to replace chemical fertilizers and hence allow farmers substantial savings. An added financial advantage is that this biofertiliser can bring users an organic farm status. Livestock farmers can also increase their revenues by selling the biofertiliser to crop farms.
Montserrat Lluch Cuevas, the project manager of the German technology biogas provider ÖKOBIT, showed a cost benefit analysis that the biogas systems under optimal use of the capacity of the system and the biogas produced, can be paid back in between 1 and 4 years.
Besides the economic advantages, the beneficiaries found practical advantages to the system. Sherwyn Sandy, one of the beneficiaries, explained that he was able to expand his production and he does not have to travel anymore by bike to get LPG cylinders. He reported very positive results from the biofertiliser. Other beneficiaries also noted other advantages such as the expansion of production, the development of new products, healthier conditions on the farm with the elimination of the smoke for burning organic waste and the reduction in odors and flies. The biofertiliser, in additional to stimulate farm growth, was also found to increase the shelf-life of farm products.
At a national level, the biogas systems have contributed to reducing Grenada’s greenhouse gases emissions as well as reducing the harmful effect of chemical fertilizers run-off on our rivers and coastlines. Additionally, the technology has been showcased to schools during field trips and places Grenada in the pole position for such biogas systems in the region. Already, representatives of the public and civil society sector from Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, St Vincent visited the systems installed as part of the project.