by Luis Brizuela (Candelaria, Cuba)Tuesday December 20, 2022Inter Press Service
CANDELARIA, Cuba, December 20 (IPS) — Mayra Rojas is among a small but growing number of people in Cuba who are benefiting from the production of biogas, a renewable energy source available in a country heavily dependent on fossil fuels , still little used.
The biodigestator at the back of her home in the rural community of Carambola, municipality of Candelaria in the province of Artemisa, 80 kilometers west of Havana, gives Rojas the benefits of not using firewood and electricity for cooking, resulting in a reduction in electricity bills for cooking time.
It was built in 2011 with the help of her husband Edegni Puche who worked on installing the gas pipes and other aspects.
Rojas and Puche, who raise pigs and grow fruit and vegetables on their small family farm, were advised by specialists from the Cuban Society for the Promotion of Renewable Energy Sources and Protection of the Environment (Cubasolar) and the Biogas User Movement (MUB). .
Rojas also obtained materials from the city government and the local pig company to build the small, roughly six cubic meter, fixed-domed biodigester based on the Chinese model.
She estimates that the total cost of the project was between $500 and $600 at the exchange rate at the time.
The cost of construction depends on the size, type and thickness of the material, as well as the characteristics of the site.
However, experts estimate that the average minimum cost to build a small bio-fermenter that will cover more than a household’s cooking needs is currently around $1,000 in a country with an average monthly salary of the equivalent of $160 at the official exchange rate.
Rojas says: “Before, when we were cleaning the pens, manure, urine and pig feed waste would pile up outside, in a corner of the yard. It smelled and there were a lot of flies.”
The organic matter is now broken down anaerobically by bacteria, but in a closed, environmentally friendly environment that provides methane gas as an energy source, rather than releasing it into the atmosphere.
Thanks to the alternative energy source, Rojas can also keep her painted nails and hair cleaner for longer.
It also helped her husband and two young children become more involved in housework, cleaning the yard and caring for the animals on the family farm, “and instilled greater awareness of environmental conservation.”
In addition, the biogas technology provides biol and biosol — liquid wastewater and sludge, respectively — which are ideal for fertilizing and restoring soil, “as well as watering and keeping plants green,” says Rojas, who has a lush garden where she grows several varieties grows exotic orchids.
Her biodigestrator has also proved useful to the community, because when there are power outages due to tropical cyclones that frequently plague the island, “neighbors come to heat water and cook their food,” she adds.
There are an estimated 5,000 biodigesters in Cuba, with the potential to expand the network to 20,000 units, at least the small ones, according to conservative estimates by experts.
More than 90 percent of Cuba’s electricity comes from burning fossil fuels in aging thermoelectric plants and diesel and fuel oil engines, in a country where a significant percentage of the 3.9 million households rely on electricity as their primary energy source for cooking and heating water for bathing uses .
© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service
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