Although the Covid-19 national lockdown has resulted in the launch of the National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa’s (NCPC-SA’s) biogas courses being delayed, one of its two new courses will most likely be presented online even before the education sector is fully functional.
“The uptake of biogas in South Africa has had varying degrees of success. It is with this in mind that the NCPC-SA developed a comprehensive and practical course to assist the market in successfully adopting biogas as a potential decentralised energy source. This course is very different from many previous similar training programmes offered by other providers in South Africa,” says NCPC-SA quality manager Tanya van Zyl.
Biogas had been refined to a mature technology in, for example, Germany and China, but is deemed a developing technology in South Africa. As a result of previous project failures in the sector, investors are reluctant to spend more time and money on the technology.
However, Van Zyl points out that the technology is well suited to the South African environment, where rural and end-of-grid communities could benefit.
Further, cities with large wastewater treatment works and other entities with large quantities of organic waste, such as abattoirs, are prime locations for biogas installations.
“Biogas can provide heat or power or it can be a source of combined heat and power for such facilities,” she points out.
The NCPC-SA has investigated how it can best serve the needs of the industry with a biogas online training course, which comprises an end-user and an expert course, both borne out of the need to continue driving energy-performance improvements, Van Zyl explains.
The end-user full-time course will be conducted over a two-day period while the online course will span over a four-day period, with half a day spent on each of the four days. There are no practical elements involved and it concludes with a qualification assignment and test. The NCPC-SA will start with this course as soon as possible, she adds.
The end-user course is aimed at those who are new to the biogas sector and those who would like to know more about the technology, but are not necessarily inclined to develop their own projects.
The part-time expert course of between nine to 12 months entails a five-day contact session with experienced biogas project developers and a two-day contact session at a later date at an operating biogas facility. Numerous online webinar mentoring sessions will be hosted by the experienced biogas project developers and the course culminates in an event where projects will be presented to potential funders in a “Shark tank” format.
During the course, candidates will be taught and mentored to develop their own real-world biogas projects, and the NCPC-SA hopes that some of these projects will find funding to be implemented.
Successful candidates will receive a certificate from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization to show that they are deemed to be experts in the biogas field.