Lack of access to modern energy services is a critical factor in the low economic development and continuing poverty of the rural Bangladeshi population. Sources vary, but it is estimated that only 60% of the population has access to electricity, and only 6% have access to mains-connected gas, primarily in urban areas. Almost 75% of the population of Bangladesh, (120 million people), live in rural areas, where the electrification rate is 42%, and almost 90% of people use traditional biomass for cooking. National reliance on dwindling reserves of natural gas has led to the government halting all new household connections to the gas grid since 2012, prioritising use by the industrial and commercial sectors.
The vast majority of the rural population in Bangladesh therefore, rely on traditional materials (firewood or dried waste material) for their household fuel needs, and only 10% have access to modern fuels such as CNG / LNG canisters. In addition to the economic and health impacts of traditional biomass use vs modern fuels, it has been calculated that population growth has already surpassed the regeneration limit of traditional biomass fuels, leading to increasing environmental impacts.
The abundance of waste material obtained from the rural agrarian economy in Bangladesh provides a vast opportunity to develop biogas as a low-cost and more efficient alternative than traditional fuels for the Bangladeshi rural population, and provide off-grid fuel efficiency. Recent government efforts have promoted the use of Biogas as a sustainable fuel source through micro-financing and subsidies for biogas plants, and has installed c.71k across the country since 2014. However, NGO and governmental focus has been on the installation of small-scale biogas plants (20-30 KW), with enough output to provide fuel for one household. Many small-scale farmers in Bangladesh do not have the required space, or enough cattle / poultry to provide the raw feedstock to develop a household biogas facility.
Urban Lights are looking to invest in the development of a large-scale (4.8 MW) biogas facility in Mymensingh to provide compressed bio-gas (CBG) canisters to the surrounding rural population to use as a fuel source instead of traditional biomass fuels. Urban Lights will source the required waste material from the surrounding farms to process and sell to wholesale retailers at a market-leading price.
Biogas, a clean and renewable fuel, has vast potential as an alternative to natural gas. It can be a supplement to petroleum products, if used in compressed form in the cylinders. Biogas originates from bacteria in the process of biodegradation of organic material under anaerobic conditions. Methane is the most valuable component under the aspect of using biogas as a fuel; the other components do not contribute to the calorific (“heating”) value and thus are “washed out” in our purification plants in order to obtain a gas with almost 93-95% CH4. Methane is the flammable compound in biogas.