20,000 new biogas units to change people’s lives in the Terai Arc
A total of 20,000 biogas plants will be installed during this phase over a period of eight years ending 2020 and covering nine districts, including 81 Village Development Committees and three municipalities, in Nepal’s Terai Arc Landscape. This project falls under AEPC’s National Rural & Renewable Energy Program and seeks to minimize pressure on forests by addressing one of the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, promote sustainable management of forests, and leverage on micro-credit schemes and carbon financing for the sustainability of the project.
“Biogas brings multiple benefits on the social, environmental and economic fronts,” stated Dr. Govind Raj Pokharel, Executive Director at AEPC. “The government needs the support of partners, ranging from the private to the non-government sectors, and this MoU is a milestone in leveraging partnerships to help us protect the environment and improve the lives of local communities.”
The Terai Arc Landscape is home to about 7 million people. With a dense population, high biodiversity and fragile ecosystems, deforestation is a major issue facing the Terai Arc. Unsustainable fuelwood extraction affects both community and government-managed forests. Biogas, as an alternate fuel, has proven to be a successful intervention in minimizing people’s dependence on forests for fuelwood. Research indicates that a biogas unit can save nearly 4.5 tons of firewood, and reduces the emission of 4.06 metric tons of CO2 equivalent annually.
The WWF Nepal Gold Standard Biogas VER Project has also helped introduce a sustainable financing scheme through carbon financing. The first phase of the project which ended in 2011 helped install 7,500 biogas plants in the Terai Arc Landscape generating upfront revenue of USD one million from the sale of carbon credits through MyClimate – trading at 13.5 Euro per ton of CO2 equivalent – in the first phase of seven years of the 21-year trading period. Such incomes have been channeled back to the local communities to install additional biogas plants for new households through micro-credit.
“The biogas project is a perfect example of building harmony between humans and nature, where a simple conservation idea is helping provide sustainable benefits to both”, stated Mr. Anil Manandhar, Country Representative of WWF Nepal. “We are proud to be a partner of AEPC and the local communities to help build on the success of the first phase of the Gold Standard Biogas VER Project, and look forward to ensuring the sustainability of the project.”