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Advantages and Disadvantages of Biogas
Advantages and Disadvantages of Biogas

An explanation of the pros and cons of small and large-scale biogas production

Written by Heba
Updated over a week ago

Interest in renewable energy sources is hotter now than ever before. More and more people are looking towards small and large-scale biogas production to solve the issues of not only energy, but also waste. If you'd like to be well-versed on the practicality and necessity of biogas when the topic of green energy or climate change comes up at your next soiree, enjoy this short list explaining to the advantages and disadvantages of biogas production. 

The Fraddon Biogas Plant in the UK: one of few commercial-size biogas projects

Advantages of Biogas 

1. It's a Clean & Renewable Energy Source

Biogas is a renewable and clean source of energy, like solar and wind power, which can help us reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas. Because these fossil fuels contribute to climate change, biogas actually reduces greenhouse gas emissions by preventing additional fossil fuel burning—and it is therefore a great way to combat global climate change. Biodigestors do this by lowering methane emissions, capturing the harmful gas and utilizing it as fuel instead of letting it dissipate into the atmosphere without use. Furthermore, the process of biodigestion is natural, not requiring any outside energy for the generation process, and the organic materials used in the production are renewable. Manure, food scraps, and crop residue are materials that will always be available, which makes biogas a highly sustainable option.

2. It Reduces Soil & Water Pollution 

When you toss your waste into the trash bin, instead of extracting its value with HomeBiogas, it will most likely end up in one of many overflowing landfills. Not only are these wastelands ugly and foul-smelling, but they allow toxic liquids to drain into and pollute underground water sources and soil. Therefore, another advantage of diverting waste through biogas production is that it can improve water and soil quality. Moreover, anaerobic digestion deactivates pathogens and parasites; thus, it’s also quite effective in reducing the incidence of waterborne diseases. 

3. Prevents Health Problems & Biodiversity Loss

The leachate of toxins from landfills mentioned above also leads to health problems in surrounding ecosystems and human and animal populations. Additionally, due to growing population sizes, more trash is being discarded than ever before. This means that more and more landfills are being constructed, which requires clearing areas of the wild that provide ecosystem services and habitat to numbers of plants and animals.

Also, it has been found that waste collection and management significantly improve in areas with biogas plants. This, in turn, leads to improvements in the environment, sanitation, and hygiene.

4. Generates Organic Fertilizer 

Not only will HomeBiogas help you generate free energy for your home using just your waste, its second byproduct is rich, organic natural fertilizer. This liquid digestive is a great alternative to chemical fertilizers because it can accelerate plant growth and resilience to diseases, whereas commercial fertilizers contain chemicals that have toxic effects and can cause food poisoning, among other things.  

5. It’s A Simple and Low-Cost Technology That Encourages A Circular Economy

The technology used to produce biogas is quite cheap, easy to set up, and requires little investment of work and time. Small biodigesters can be used right at home, utilizing kitchen waste and animal manure. A HomeBiogas appliance can pay for itself in as little as two years, and the materials used for generation are absolutely free. Then, the gas manifested can be used directly for cooking and electricity. This is what allows the cost of biogas production to be relatively low.

Farms can make use of biogas plants and waste products produced by their livestock every day. The manure of one cow can provide enough energy to power a lightbulb for an entire day.

In large plants, biogas can also be compressed to achieve the quality of natural gas, and utilized to power automobiles. Building such plants requires relatively low capital investment, and creates green jobs. For instance, in India, about 10 millions jobs involving the collection of waste and generation of biogas are created each year, mostly in rural areas. 

6. Healthy Cooking Alternative For Developing Areas

Biogas generators save people, mainly women and children, from the daunting task of firewood collection. More importantly, cooking on a gas stove, instead of over an open fire, prevents the family from being exposed to smoke in the kitchen. This helps prevent deadly respiratory diseases. Sadly, 4.3 million people a year die prematurely from illnesses attributable to household air pollution caused by the inefficient use of solid fuels for cooking. HomeBiogas is a socially responsible company dedicated to helping such communities in need. 

Indoor air pollution deaths by country (WHO)

Disadvantages of Biogas 

1. Few Advancements

An unfortunate disadvantage of biogas today is that the technology is not completely efficient. There are no new technologies yet which would simplify the process and make it more abundant and affordable. This means large-scale production to supply for a large population is still not possible. Although the biogas plants available today are able to meet some energy needs, many governments are not willing to invest in the sector. So far, HomeBiogas is the most efficient, affordable, and easy-to-use small-scale biodigestor on the market. 

2. Less Suitable For Dense Metropolitan Areas

Because of the above restrictions, a system suitable for dense metropolitan living is not yet available. In the future, we hope to see the emergence of an appliance which can be utilized from homes like apartments that have minimal indoor and outdoor space. 

3. Contains Impurities

After refinement and compression, biogas still contains impurities. If the generated biofuel was utilized to power automobiles, it can corrode the metal parts of the engine. This corrosion would lead to increased maintenance costs. The gaseous mix is much more suitable for kitchen stoves, water boilers, and lamps. 

4. Effect of Temperature on Biogas Production

Like other renewable energy sources (e.g. solar, wind) biogas generation is also affected by the weather. The optimal temperature bacteria need to digest waste is around 37°C. In cold climates (below 20°C), biodigesters require heat energy to maintain a constant biogas supply. 

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