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Friday, 30 April 2010 20:12

British Farmer Challenges Peers of Renewable Energy

By Finnigan Wa Simbeye

DAR ES SALAAM, April 13 (Tanzania Daily News) - Tanzania's nomadic pastoralists can borrow a leaf from a 62-year old British rural livestock farmer, a primary school dropout, on how best to use their herds of cattle in the production of renewable energy.


Because of his concern for climate change, Clive Pugh and his wife, Nina, has invested his life savings in a biogas energy project using cow dung, pig excreta and poultry dung to feed a 125 kilowatts generator with biogas.


The Pughs produce all their own energy. Ms Pugh cooks the meals on the gas fired cooker. The lights run from the electricity produced too. They get hot water and their heating system which has been invaluable during this exceptionally cold British winter.


"We can produce enough power to light up and heat 100 homes. This all comes from the bio digester that produces gas from the waste which is fed into it," he said. "I think that it could power up more than 100 homes in Tanzania because it is hotter there and you would need to use power for central heating like you do here in the UK."


There is an added bonus too. Mr Pugh has been able to save 75 per cent of his fertiliser bill costs because the waste from the energy plant is full of nitrogen and this can be spread on the fields. "When we started over twenty years ago, it was because I was concerned about global warming," Mr Pugh told the 'Daily News' at his 140- hectare farm in Mellington.


Much of Britain's energy comes from fossil fuel which is blamed by scientists for causing global warming which is having disastrous effects on poor countries such as Tanzania where droughts, floods, and temperature extremes are causing billions of shillings worth of damage annually.


Innovative and daring pioneer farmers like Pugh are now gaining recognition from governments worldwide as concerns over climate change grow. And his example fits in well with the government's Kilimo Kwanza initiative.


Mr Pugh who is calling on governments to fight global warming by supporting renewable energy initiatives especially those done by rural farmers using cheaply available farm produce such as animal dung and excreta, said countries like Tanzania had a lot of potential in this area.


"If you have many cattle or poultry or crops such as barley, sisal and bread residue, your farmers can start small biogas energy projects which can supply the national grid and earn them money but also saving our planet from global warming," he said.


The modest Welsh farmer who has defied orthodox thinking that a large scale farmer needs formal education and recruiting a team of agriculture experts to succeed started with a small 50kw plant to meet his farm's energy needs over two decades ago.


"I invested some 80,000 pounds in the initial project which produced excess energy compared to my farm needs..., with the new investment we are now supplying the national grid," Mr Pugh, who earns 10,000 pounds a month from his energy supply to Britain, said.


Tanzania, which has the third highest number of cattle in Africa and is touted to have the largest population of poultry on the continent, has few biogas energy projects such as Katani biogas plant in Tanga which uses sisal waste to generate power.


Katani which is a unique renewable energy project in the world produces over 100kw of energy which are used by the company's Hale sisal farm where the biogas project is based.


Katani Limited Managing Director Salum Shamte recently told the 'Daily News' that his company is targeting to generate between 1.5 and 3 megawatts of electricity to supply to the national grid and earn income.


"We hope to generate more electricity using sisal waste from all of our four major farms and also generate some from a mini hydro power project we want to undertake," Shamte said.


Katani's Hale biogas project is one of the designated Clean Development Mechanism projects in the country.



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