Biomass Gasification in Community based Bioenergy Systems

R.B. Mangoyana and T.F. Smith (Australia)


Biomass gasification, bioenergy, and rural communities


Community based biomass gasification projects are being implemented in developing countries driven by the need for rural energy and the related socio-economic benefits. Biomass gasification has provided energy for lighting, water heating, cooking through gas stoves, water pumps for drinking water and agricultural irrigation; and small scale processing industries. However, the realisation and sustenance of these benefits; and therefore the long-term success of community-based gasification projects vary from project to project. There has also been limited application of these projects in other developing countries in serious need of energy such as Africa despite the potential benefits. It is against this background that this study brings the knowledge, experiences, opportunities and limitations of community based biomass gasification together to identify key sustainability issues. The study showed that biomass gasification technology is a well developed technology with substantial demonstrations in community contexts. Attractive features in community based bioenergy projects include simplicity and ease of application at different scales; and feedstock flexibility allowing the use of a number of feedstocks including agricultural waste. However, the success of community based biomass gasification projects is partly limited by the inability of poor communities to afford the energy. The ability to afford the energy is vital for the long term commercial viability and sustenance of the wider socio economic benefits. The study discusses strategies that may help mitigate this challenge and other issues related to the sustainability of biomass gasification in developing community contexts.

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