Residents Turn to Biogas for Cooking

Amid the prolonged kerosene and liquefied pressurized natural gas (LPG) crisis, residents of Sampang on Madura Island have utilized biogas for cooking and electrification.

Nidhamudin, resident of Baru village in Kota district, said most villagers have used biogas for cooking since they have already become skilled in producing alternative energy from cow dung.

"With a couple of cows, I always have a stock of raw material to produce biogas and my family has never been worried by the scarcity of kerosene and disappearance of LPG in the market," Antara quoted the father of two growing children as saying here on Saturday.

Nidhamudin recalled he initially spent around Rp 2 million (US$180) to purchase the device for producing the biogas.

"After that I spend no more money. I just have to feed my cows with grass everyday," he said.

The cows' dung and waste is channeled into a 25-square meter biodigester which takes gas via a pipe to a cooking brazier in his kitchen.

The dung is blended with water in the ratio of 1:4. A small sack of dung blended with four jerricans of water can produce sufficient biogas to fuel the brazier for six hours," he said.

Nidhamuddin, who supports his family by farming a plot of land in the village, added that the biogas could also be utilized to produce electric power for house lighting.

"Residents have produced biogas for cooking following the scarcity of kerosene in the past three months," he said, mentioning that those having no cows, have only been able to use firewood for cooking.

Nidhamudin, a graduate of an Islamic boarding school, revealed that he had learned more about the biogas from Pasuruan, where it had been produced and used as alternative energy for cooking and lighting.

"So far three villages have used biogas for cooking and two other villages are expected to follow suit," he said, referring to Asem Nunggal and Ketapang villages.

He hoped the government would provide Rp 2 million in subsidies for all poor families to produce biogas because this was more efficient and did not raise problems like those of the chaotic kerosene-to-gas conversion program.

The use of biogas as alternative energy in Sampang actually was not for the first since this has also become common practice in many other regions including Pasuruan and Kediri.

Lamidi, a 40-year-old farmer in Sekarputih village, Nganjuk, has used biogas since 2007 and could save up to 50 percent of his normal expenditure on energy.

But differently from Nidhamudin, Lamidi used tofu waste to produce biogas. "The tofu waste is put in a closed tank to undergo fermentation and finally produce biogas."

With a home industry which he runs that produces tempeh (soybean cake) and tofu, Lamidi has no problem at all with the supply of the tofu waste that he needs for producing biogas.

He said that he spent only Rp 17 million to purchase the four digesters he used to process the tofu waste to produce the biogas.

"I have no worries about the kerosene scarcity because I do not need to purchase fuel so to cook and run my home industry."

Sumber: The Jakarta Post, Monday, 01/05/2009

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