Socio-economic assessment of biogas production and utilization in Uganda
Walekhwa, Peter Nabusiu
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Uganda is endowed with different energy sources. However, the country continues to experience acute energy supply shortages because of the heavy reliance on few traditional sources. Dependence on the traditional energy sources is increasingly becoming unsustainable due to ecological and environmental problems and rapid depletion. Biogas energy could augment these conventional energy sources. Despite its long history, advantages and existence of favourable conditions for its production, biogas energy use in Uganda remains low. Based on primary data on households in Central and Eastern Uganda and secondary data, with the use of logistic and tobit regressions and cost benefit analysis, this study (1) analysed factors affecting the adoption of biogas energy in Uganda (2) assessed the key household user perceptions of and preferences for biogas technology in Uganda (3) assessed the economic viability of biogas technology as an alternative energy source for cooking and lighting in Uganda and (4) estimated the potential biogas energy that can be generated from animal wastes in Uganda. The empirical logistic regression results suggest that the probability of a household adopting biogas technology increases with decreasing age of head of household, increasing household income, increasing number of cattle owned, increasing household size, male head of household and increasing cost of traditional fuels. In contrast, the likelihood of adoption decreases with increasing remoteness of household location and increasing household land area. Tobit regression results show that users’ perceptions of the durability of the Biogas Cooking Stove (BCS), the taste of food prepared on the BCS, initial cost of the BCS, the human drudgery burden imposed by the BCS and perception of the air pollution potential of the BCS had a significant influence on adoption and use intensity rates of the BCS in Uganda. The results of Cost –Benefit analysis show that biogas energy production from fixed-dome family-sized plants is economically viable with a payback period of 1.17 years for the 8m3 plants, 1.08 years for the 12m3 and 1.01 years, for the 16m3 biogas plants. The Net Present Values (NPV) and internal rate of return (IRR) results also show that the biogas plants are economically viable. Sensitivity analysis results show that the economic viability of biogas plants is most affected by variation in operating and maintenance (O&M) costs. They also show that the total costs for the plant should range between UGX 6 million and UGX 20 million per year, depending on the size of the plant. The corresponding O&M costs should lie between UGX 5 million to UGX 10 million. Beyond these operational levels, family-sized plants in Uganda are not economically viable. The total biogas energy potential from animal wastes has been estimated to be 1740ktoe. Of this, 1189ktoe is the total energy potential from cattle wastes, 490ktoe from sheep and goats, 48ktoe from pigs and 13ktoe from poultry. Policy recommendations including the provision of financial and non-financial incentives to households and establishment of an institutional framework could bolster wider biogas energy acceptance in Uganda. Furthermore, user perceptions found to have a significant relationship with the probability and use intensity of biogas technology should be taken into consideration in biogas technology development to enhance wider acceptance and dissemination of the technology.