"Biogas is worth gold to us, we can no longer live without it," Claudete Volkswey, a poultry farmer in the municipality of Toledo, in the southwestern state of Paraná, Brazil, said enthusiastically about the new source of energy that has allowed her to get a good night’s sleep again, because she no longer has to get up to stoke the fire every two hours.
Rosa Manzano carefully arranges pieces of wood in a big mud igloo that, seven days after it is full, will produce charcoal of high caloric content.
"It used to be complicated, I would have lunch with the flies," recalls Pedro Colombari, laughing, on his 400-hectare farm where he fattens 5,000 pigs and raises 400 cattle outside of a small town in southern Brazil.
Fomenting biogas production among agricultural producers may seem at first glance to be a distraction from the purpose of Itaipu, the giant hydroelectric power plant shared by Brazil and Paraguay, but in fact it is part of their energy business strategy.
Nepal’s future may not be in hydropower, as most assume, but actually in the dung heap. A new industrial-scale biogas plant near Pokhara has proved that livestock and farm waste producing flammable methane gas can replace imported LPG and chemical fertiliser.
"They're the ideal duo," because the combination of solar and biogas sources makes it possible to provide electricity around the clock, one during the day and the other at night, says Anelio Thomazzoni, a pig farmer who has become a producer of clean energy in southwestern Brazil.
"Biogas is the best energy, it has no contraindications," and if you combine it with solar it becomes "the best energy business," at least in Brazil, says Anélio Thomazzoni.
The state of Santa Catarina in southern Brazil is the largest national producer and exporter of pork and this year it also leads in exports of chicken, of which it is the second-biggest producer in the country.
Biogas has the potential to provide 36 percent of the electricity consumed in Brazil or replace 70 percent of diesel if purified as biomethane, according to the Brazilian Association of Biogas and Biomethane (Abiogas).
Romário Schaefer is fattening up 3,300 pigs that he receives when they weigh around 22 kg and returns when they reach 130 to 160 kg - a huge increase in meat and profits for their owner, a local meat-processing plant in this city in Brazil.
Pigs, already the main source of income in this small municipality in southwestern Brazil, now have even more value as a source of electricity.
Black plastic pipes, readily available on the mainly empty shelves of Cuba’s shops, distribute biogas to homes in the rural town of La Macuca, buried under the ground or running through the grass and stones in people’s yards.
“We want to make history," agreed the teachers at the Chiquinho Cartaxo Comprehensive Technical Citizen School. They are the first to teach adolescents about generating power from bad weather in the semi-arid Northeast region of Brazil.
Promoting the widespread use of innovative technologies will be critical to combat the hostile effects of climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and many African countries are already leading the way with science-based solutions.
Nabela Zainab no longer chokes and coughs when she cooks a meal, thanks to the new biogas-fueled two-burner stove in her kitchen.
On the blue flame of her biogas stove, it takes half as long for rural doctor Arianna Toledo to heat bath water and cook dinner as it did four years ago, when she still used electric power or firewood.
In his parody of the Michael Jackson hit “Beat It”, the American satirist and singer Weird Al Yankovic has a parent urging his son to eat the food on his plate, warning that “other kids are starving in Japan”.
“People have gathered here to tell their politicians that the way in which we used energy and our environment in the 19th
centuries is now over,” says Radek Gawlik, one of Poland’s most experienced environmental activists. “The time for burning coal has passed and the sooner we understand this, the better it is for us.”
Johannes Kapelle has been playing the organ in the Protestant church of Proschim since he was 14. The 78-year-old is actively involved in his community, produces his own solar power and has raised three children with his wife on their farm in Proschim, a small village of 360 inhabitants in Lusatia, Germany.
Less than four percent of Egypt’s land mass is suitable for agriculture, and most of it confined to the densely populated Nile River Valley and Delta. With the nation’s population of 85 million expected to double by 2050, government officials are grappling with ways of ensuring food security and raising nutritional standards.
The massive Itaipú hydroelectric dam, shared by Brazil and Paraguay, has now become a model for the micro-scale production of an energy source that is not only clean, but also helps to reduce pollution and promote local development: biogas.