Biogas Bloemfontein

Biogas Bloemfontein
Minor International Entrepreneurship & Development 2017

Fezile Dabi, South Africa
Vaal Dam, South Africa

Fabian Kamp
Joris Schoenmakers
Victor Verboog

The main energy supplier in South Africa is Eskom. Eskom is a government owned national power utility which has a monopoly in the country’s electricity sector. Together with the high demand of energy, and the low supply of energy in South Africa, this creates an incredibly high price in terms of energy costs from Eskom (South Africa’s energy supply, 2012). While 68% of the energy is obtained through coal, only 3% is obtained through natural gas (South Africa:
Balances for 2015, 2017). This has been the base of our project. During our stay we focused mainly on the research of obtaining information on the interest and capacity for the implementation of biogas digesters on farms in South Africa, which is the first step in increasing the use of biogas as an alternative energy source. While defining different objectives, our main objective has been to achieve a base for the implementation of biogas digesters through research for the students and experts at Johannesburg University and upcoming TU Delft students, which will eventually lead into increasing the use of biogas as alternative energy source.

On top of that we have developed an interactive business model to make sure that the continuation can develop in such a way that everything can be picked up easily once we leave. Two examples of the business model have been worked out, one WITH governmental funds and one WITHOUT governmental funds, the last one thus being a self-purchase option. In the models that were produced, the residual bio-slurry is being considered as a very interesting business opportunity from which a lot of money can be generated.

On top of that the re-use of the bio-slurry means that the digester is a very interesting way of reducing waste material that will be pumped into the atmosphere. In order to raise the awareness of the possibilities regarding alternative energy sources and self-sufficiency, we have come to an agreement with a farmer to install a large installation at his farm. He will make sure that the other farmers are allowed to visit him to come and see the digester working. The new students that will be coming in are going to be able to organize workshops and meetings with this particular professor to spread the knowledge about bio digesters even more.

Once more and more emerging farmers have got a biodigester, the mission of our project to create a sustainable and responsible innovation development, will be a success. However, this is a great start already and we have good faith that this project will lead to a positive end.

The first three weeks were spent on meeting all of our stakeholders, initializing the knowledge diffusion in the free state with prof. Takatso, visiting all of the farms to get a proper impression of the capacity per farm as well as showing the design and explaining some more basics and at last preliminary research at home.

The three weeks after that were fully spent on the research of the chemical, biological and a combination of the two, biochemical processes. Next to that we investigated several options regarding the business models, conducted market research for the fertilizer product and looked into the potential of the bio-slurry as fertilizer with regards to the plant nutrients needs.

Simultaneously an interactive business model has been developed over the course of about 5 - 6 weeks. This took a long time because a lot of the actual data obtained from the research as well as the designs and data collected from farmers had to be implemented into the model. This has been done in corporation with the other TUDelft biogas group who were active in the Gauteng region. We have filled the model in with a few farmers to check how user-friendly it would prove to be and so far we have gotten a lot of positive feedback, so we think this model contributes in a very positive way to the continuation of the project.

The final weeks have been used to finish all the loose ends, optimize the models, enhancing the lay-out of all end products and the final presentations to our stakeholders.

The different stakeholders that have been presented in this project are of course the local emerging black farmers, who were our main focus. Next to that we have the TU Delft stakeholders, Dr. J.O. Kroesen, our main coordinator and supervisor and Dr. Ir. R. Lindeboom, who has provided information about the biodigesters. Then we also have our supervisors in South Africa who have been the Department of Agriculture, PEETS (Process Engineering and Energy Technology Station from the UJ) and Takatso Mofokeng, who was our most important supervisor who has set up this project and ever since tried to steer it in the desired direction.

The expectation of our project was that we deliver a proper report about the possibilities regarding responsible innovations for emerging black farmers in South Africa, particularly in the region Free State. The report focuses on self-sufficiency in terms of biogas installations.Besides that, we have investigated the possibilities for the farmers to earn extra money with the residual slurry that is left behind after the anaerobic fermentation process has finished. We have thus also developed two business models, where in one case the farmer has got funds from the government and in the other they provide the funding on their own.

On top of that we also have the interactive model, in which they can fill in the actual numbers in terms of amount of livestock, electricity usage and some other variables to get a proper overview of their current revenue stream without a digester and what it looks like with a digester. We have also raised awareness on the possibilities of self-sufficiency, sustainability, economical way of thinking and the biogas process in particular by visiting the farmers and explaining the whole process.

By showing the farmers that they can actually earn quite a lot of money as soon as they have got their investment back, we hope that the farmers will handle the concept with more responsibility and see it as a nice opportunity for them to increase their living standards.

Fabian Kamp - Applied Earth Sciences
Joris Schoenmakers - Industrial Design
Victor Verboog - Industrial Design

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