The National Project on Biogas Development (NPBD) has been one of the most prominent renewable energy programmes in India. Introduced in 1981/82, the programme has made significant contributions in terms of providing clean and convenient cooking fuel and fertilizer for rural families, bringing about, at the same time, an improvement in the quality of life of the people, especially, the women. However, compared to the magnitude of rural energy requirements, its impact has been small, and the rate of penetration has been slow. The 2.5 million biogas plants installed during the last 16 years are expected to save about 68 million tonnes (mt) of fuelwood whereas the total wood consumption in the rural domestic sector is estimated at over 200 mt. A number of institutional and other factors appear to be responsible for such a low scale of operation. However, considering the appropriateness of biogas technology for meeting rural energy requirements, it is imperative to make it broad-based by involving stakeholders at the grassroots level on a large scale. It is in this context that the involvement of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) assumes significance, as they will, given their proximity and commitment to grassroots-level development, be able to perform the role of implementors effectively. The experience of NGOs who have been associated with NPBD amply illustrates this pattern.

The broad objectives of conducting and publishing this study are: to share experiences and learnings from the biogas technology pro- motion programme with other development organizations; assist in shaping the energy and environment related policies of the government and national and international development organizations; and assist in the planning, design, and implementation of future rural energy programmes.

  • Preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • Abbreviations
  • Executive summary
  • Introduction
  • The evaluation study
  • Performance of biogas plants
  • Direct benefits of biogas technology
  • Environmental benefits of biogas technology
  • Motivation and technology promotion
  • Quality assurance and capacity building
  • Repair and maintenance strategy
  • Women's involvement in the biogas programme
  • Financial arrangements
  • Technology development
  • Programme management and strategic planning
  • The AFPROCHF experience: a synthesis
  • Appendices