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FAO/UNEP/UN-Energy Bioenergy Decision Support Tool -
MODULE 7: Deployment and Good Practices
ALTERNATIVE CONFIGURATIONS
IFES can be put together in various confgurations and at various
scales with three possible ultimate purposes (Sachs and Silk,
1990): One is “farm-centred”, such as the production of biogas
at farm level
< Biogas in Vietnam>
.
A second option is the case
of agribusiness or “enterprise-centred” such as the one with
recycling of waste as both energy feedstock and animal food
<China - Sweet sorghum>
,
where the production of energy is a
spin-off from agricultural production.
A third type of system is the “energy farm” unit designed for the
production of energy, usually for distribution via conventional
means to distant urban markets. This type of system could be
expanded into a kind of “public utility” system in order to include
a social purpose other than food production, for example, waste
water treatment in a manner that simultaneously produces food
and reduces the environmental load. Examples include urban
latrine systems in India, which, coupled with a biogas generator,
produce hot water and street lighting while reducing sewage
treatment problems.
Another type of IFES is the “community focused” system. It seeks
to energize daily life in a variety of ways that answer domestic
and community needs, such as cooking and sanitation, as well
as individual and community productive needs in agriculture and
industry. A scheme for land management coupled to biogas tech-
nology in Vietnam illustrates the community-based approach (Box
11). The community-focused system in rural areas will generally
combine livestock management as well.
NON-EDIBLE VS. EDIBLE CROPS
Energy crops such as jatropha that are non-edible (due to toxicity
in this case) are sometimes touted as an advantage as they can
be co-cropped and will not compete with food crops. However,
in some cases a crop’s toxicity or non-edible nature can present
a market barrier. In Mexico, where jatropha originates, the
non-edible version was not economically viable in some areas;
however, the development of an edible or non-toxic variety has
proven valuable because of the integration of the co-products of
the crop into other uses, such as fshmeal (Box 12). The combi-
nation of the energy and non-energy (food) uses offered useful
synergies. The example illustrates again the site-specifc nature
of bioenergy, in that a beneft or rule that is seen to apply almost
universally may not hold true when it comes to the actual deploy-
ment with the local or regional economy.
Box 11: Land Management and Biogas in Vietnam
Vietnam has one of the fastest growing economies in the world and an expanding agricultural sector. Following land rights being
given to individual farmers, the country embarked on an integrated land management scheme, following land rights being given to
individual farmers. This scheme was supported by the Vietnamese Gardener's Association (VACVINA), which works at all levels, and
has national responsibility to promote this concept – called the VAC integrated system. It involves gardening, fsh rearing and animal
husbandry to make optimal use of the land. Traditional fuels such as wood and coal for cooking, are becoming increasingly scarce
and expensive, and can contribute to deforestation. Increasing livestock production in rural communities with high population density
leads to health and environmental issues from the quantity of animal dung being produced.
Biogas digesters are part of the solution offered by this initiative, using the wastes to generate energy, and the resultant slurry as
a fertilizer to improve soil quality. A market-based approach has been adopted to disseminate the plants. The service provided to
those buying the digester is comprehensive. The customer must have at least 4-6 pigs or 2-3 cattle that provide all the inputs (animal
dung). Households use the biogas as fuel and slurry as fertilizer. They pay the total installation cost for the digesters to local service
providers, and operate the biodigester using instructions provided by local service providers. A biodigester produces enough daily
fuel for cooking and lighting. It improves the surrounding environment, whilst livestock produce meat, milk and fsh products for local
consumption and subsistence farming. Also vegetable production is enhanced through use of biogas slurry, and latrines can be
added to the system to enable human waste to be used for energy.
Box 12: Non-toxic Jatropha in Mexico
The jatropha plant originates from Mexico and grows wild in many regions, where it is commonly used as ‘living fences’ by farmers.
The non-toxic variety is found in the state of Veracruz and in the Yucatan Peninsula. A number of projects have been initiated for
biodiesel, including commercial plots ranging up to several thousand hectares (GEXSI, 2008). The existence of non-toxic varieties
in Mexico has also enabled their use as fsh meal and other options, thereby extending the fexibility of the jatropha resource; at the
same time, it exemplifes a case where traditional wisdom and scientifc research complemented each other well (Maakar, 2010).