The South African National Energy Development Institute (Sanedi) and the University of Johannesburg (UJ) have signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) to jointly assess the performance of Sanedi’s micro anaerobic biogas digester programme, as well as to define the optimal niche digester market with the potential for localisation options and commercial viability of the technology.
To accelerate these efforts, Sanedi and UJ have appointed the UJ Process, Energy and Environmental Technology Station (UJ-PEETS) to evaluate Sanedi’s activities during the last five years, as well as develop a feasibility report that will comprise an approach going forward.
The duration of the MoA is one year, with implementation of results of this work being over the next five years under an overarching memorandum of understanding.
Based on the outcome of the above, UJ-PEETS will implement a sectoral development plan that will include capacity development through awareness, education, and process development to aid in the further development of a micro anaerobic biogas digester industry in the country.
The objective of the study is to enable Sanedi to meet its mandate in supporting government to attain and enhance the objectives of Integrated Resource Plan 2019, national skills development and job creation initiatives.
Through the MoA, UJ-PEETS also aims to provide insights to improve the biogas industry and outline the potential role and competitiveness of smal- and medium-sized businesses through the application of specialised knowledge, technology innovation and facilitation of interaction between industry and academia.
“The country’s micro anaerobic biogas digester industry has the potential to strengthen the country’s renewable energy efforts with an emphasis on the use of biogas as an alternative energy resource in smaller communities,” says Working for Energy GM David Mahuma.
He adds that Sanedi also recognises that the technology can unlock the waste to energy potential of the country for small- and large-scale applications that include the greater energy industry such as thermal fuels, electricity generation and transportation.
Sanedi hopes to develop micro-scale anaerobic digestion treatment processes for the purposes of using local, inexpensive, durable and easy-to manage treatment options for rural and urban biowaste.
Micro anaerobic digestion involves the production of biogas, but on a small scale within farms or small communities.
The micro-scale digestion production units are below 50 m3 and are used mainly for thermal applications. Some small-scale agricultural units have gas generation capacity to power small-scale electricity generation capacity between 30 kW and 100 kW.