Mission Accomplished

The main goal on this trip for the biogas project was to interview all three potential contractors, and today we were able to land the final interview and also complete a fourth unexpected one.

The first appointment today was with Paul Erimu and Hamida with Envirosyn. This company has installed over 180 fixed-dome digesters throughout Uganda, mostly in northern part of the country. They put a lot of effort into marketing and education in order to convince people to believe that Biogas does in fact work and it can have a positive impact on their lives. Out of 100 people they approach about biogas, only 50 want to hear more, and then only 2 eventually decide to commit and install a digester in their home or at their school. (The other 48 say it will cost too much to try).

Paul and Hamida rode with us to visit a local school where one of their installed digesters is operating. With thunder rumbling ominously overhead, we walked around the concrete tops of 4 tanks in a row that ended at an outlet for spent slurry to escape to a garden area. Paul hopped up on one rim and poked a stick into an open chamber, explaining that the slurry here had been mixed with too much water and was not producing as much gas as it could. He took a lot of pride in his design, and an accompanying school worker was also very proud of the system that he helped to operate. We followed the gas line to the kitchen, where four biogas burners (not all connected right now) were installed in a remarkably clean and smoke-free concrete room, and a small simmering pot of beans gave off a nice aroma.  It was a dramatic difference from the typical wood-burning kitchens where you gasp for clean air and the eyes burn and water from the smoke.

We left that location and hurried towards the next appointment with Arjan Coenradie, managing director of QEnergy Consultants, at a downtown coffee shop. Luckily, there was enough time for a fried chicken lunch at a Mr. Tasty fast-food restaurant next door before the meeting! Arjan was the exact type of contact that EWBGCP has been trying to find for the last 10 months for this project: a person with experience inside the local small-scale biogas industry, who had clear answers about technical issues as well as supply questions, and spoke great English. He was very much on our wavelength as we discussed bag digesters, biogas in general, and how to get things done in Uganda, for two hours.  Ed and Jim left with a new understanding of bag digesters and feeling that we had found an ideal solution for our needs in Buseesa.

Not much else happened today except for another traffic jam and a few power outages, but dinner was superb and the hospitality remained top-notch!