Not quite cooking on gas: Understanding biogas plant failure and abandonment in Northern Tanzania

Joseph Hewitt, Maria Holden, Ben Robinson, Sarah Jewitt, Mike Clifford

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Abstract

The potential for biogas to fulfil an integral role in promoting sustainable energy solutions, particularly in the Global South, is evident, and especially pertinent in the Sustainable Development Goal era. Internationally, multiple initiatives driven by private, public and third sectors have resulted in a significant growth in the numbers of biogas plants constructed. These processes are highly visible in Tanzania, which has witnessed considerable investment across the sector in recent decades leading to a proliferation of biogas systems. However, research suggests that many of these plants experience failures which can lead to the ultimate abandonment of the systems, eroding the potential benefits of widespread biogas adoption. This research explores some of the main drivers of biogas plant failure and abandonment in Northern Tanzania through a rapid review of the literature identifying current sector best practice and a series of semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders including: biogas plant owners, operators, constructors, government officials and private enterprises. The analysis reveals a range of clear and, at points, interrelated themes associated with biogas
failure which can be largely grouped under the following banners: poor construction and installation, sub-optimal feeding practices, operation and maintenance issues, and training provision and knowledge erosion. By illuminating the subtleties surrounding each challenge, this paper is designed to stimulate a re-evaluation of how long-term, sustained and successful use of biogas plants can be fostered through a reduction in failure and/or abandonment. This is particularly important given that the biogas sector continues to evolve and expand across the globe.
Original languageEnglish
Article number112600
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Volume165
Early online date26 May 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 May 2022

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article under the CC BY license.

Funding Information:
This research was made possible by InnovateUK's “Smart Biogas Network” (Grant Number 132479 ) and partially supported by InnovateUK's “Smart Biogas II - Increasing Wealth from Waste” (Grant Number 105909 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors

Funder

This research was made possible by InnovateUK's “Smart Biogas Network” (Grant Number 132479 ) and partially supported by InnovateUK's “Smart Biogas II - Increasing Wealth from Waste” (Grant Number 105909 ).

Keywords

  • SDG7
  • Tanzania
  • Energy Ecosystem
  • Energy Access
  • biogas
  • Failure

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