ISLAMABAD - The federal government will develop biogas plants as an alternative energy source in the country with the help of the Italian government, it was learnt reliably Saturday.

“We are at an initial stage of the process of introducing biogas technology in the country and have discussed the project with different countries and companies of the world and are hopeful that Italy will come forward to take the lead role in the biogas industry of Pakistan,” sources told The Nation.

They maintained the biogas experience was successful in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the federal government wanted to develop this industry in the same pattern. He said biogas technology could significantly benefit the country in economic, social and environmental sectors.

Biogas originates from biogenic material and is a type of biofuel which primarily comprises methane and carbon dioxide. Biogas can be used as a low-cost fuel for heating, cooking and power generation.

The sources lamented the decision of the present government of setting up solar park by saying that it is no solution to the energy problem; it is just waste of resources and the better way of political scoring. “You don’t make parks for solar energy, you install solar panels on the top of buildings,” the official added. Similarly, liquefied natural gas (LNG), imported coal or imported oil is not solution to the soaring energy demands of Pakistan. “Our solution lies in the exploration of indigenous resources. Biogas is our own national asset, but we need to explore ways to utilise it. Once fully operational, the biogas technology can play a vital role in solving problems of the energy sector, both domestic and commercial,” the official asserted.

Pakistan’s energy requirement is growing at the rate of 10-12% per year. It was 57.9 million tons oil equivalent (MTOE) in 2006, which rose to 79 MTOE in 2010 and will be 177 MTOE in 2020.

Despite huge potential and benefits, biogas technology has not been given due attention in the country. Pakistan is the fifth biggest country in the world in terms of livestock population, but is nowhere in biogas production as it is not able to utilise its maneuvers on commercial basis, the official maintained, adding that this field has a vast opportunity for investment. Biogas plants are popular in Pakistan’s neighborhood as well as in developed countries. There are millions of biogas plants in India and have also been built in Europe and the US.

According the economic survey 2013-14, there are about 71 million big animals in Pakistan. A medium-sized animal produces around 10kg of dung per day and even if its 50 percent is collected, its availability comes to 350 million kg a day that can produce around 18 million cubic meters of biogas a day and will also produce 27 million tons of best quality bio-fertilizer per year, which can boost agricultural productivity.

The provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa introduced biogas technology in the province, under Pakistan-Italy Debt Swap agreement. Under the agreement about 436 small and medium biogas plants were developed at household level in Peshawar, Abbottabad, Charsadda, Manshera, Haripur and Nowshera districts. A small and medium-scale domestic biogas plant costs no more than Rs 50,000 to Rs 100,000, and it can be made even in the courtyard of rural houses, the official pointed out. As per Pakistan Centre for Renewable Energy Technologies (PCRET) report, a family-size biogas plant annually produces energy equivalent to 10,056kg wood, 22,200kg animal dung, 1,104 liter kerosene oil, 540kg LPG or 9,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity.

UNDP and even Sui gas department have also installed biogas plants in different part of the country, the official maintained.