In rural areas of Myanmar, over 90% of the people depend on biomass fuels, like firewood, for cooking. Women and children especially are exposed to harmful fumes in their kitchens when cooking with these fuels. The costs of biomass fuels or the time spend on fuel collection are becoming a substantial burden. More than 80% of the rural population does not have access to electricity.
SNV and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have released a study assessing the feasibility of setting up and implementing a national biogas programme in Myanmar. Using animal manure as feedstock, Myanmar has a limited history in biogas: household biogas plants providing fuel for cooking and basic lighting and community biogas plants generating electricity at village level. Practices lack proper standardisation and different actors without proper coordination.
The study concluded that the technical potential of biogas plants amounts to a minimum of 600,000 units. Increasing prices of firewood for cooking together with a large cattle population provide an opportunity for biogas production, especially in the Dry Zone in Central Myanmar. There’s a will and interest among (potential) stakeholders to be engaged in a national programme.
The feasibility study provides a tentative outline for a national biogas programme, with a long-term vision to develop a commercial, sustainable biogas sector, including the production of 3,600 household and 300 community biogas plants in three potential divisions of Central Myanmar (Mandalay, Sagaing and Magway).
The households and villages (37%) and donor organisation(s) (63%) are the proposed investors/financiers of the programme, while it is recommended that the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (GoRUM) provides policy support. In addition, an earmarked credit fund for the financing of both household and community biogas plants will be required to tap the potential demand.