Biogas as a solution to tackle environmental, health, and energy supply challenges

Long Phan, Young Expert Energy Data Analyse at SNV Netherlands Development Organisation in Vietnam.


The Biogas Programme from SNV Netherlands Development Organisation in Vietnam aims to improve the livelihood and quality of life of rural people through exploiting the market and non-market benefits of the domestic biogas plants and sector. Young Expert Long Phan is working as an Energy Data Analyst collecting and analysing on-site and off-site data, developing data-processing models and present/tell stories from the insights gained from analysis.

The Biogas Programme started in 2003. Currently 181.683 digesters have been installed in 55 provinces, supporting more than 800.000 people. Long Phan: “People in developing countries are facing increasing challenges to secure energy for cooking and lighting purposes. Their access to traditional cooking fuels is declining while commercial fuels are expensive and the supply is unreliable. Furthermore, the collection of biomass fuels and the production of charcoal deplete natural resources and damage the environment and the smoke that results from burning solid biomass fuels increases the risk for respiratory illnesses and eye ailments. Animal husbandry, and in particular the 26.9 million pigs that are raised in Vietnam, cause considerable sanitary and environmental pollution problems. Biogas technology could provide a solution to all of the above as it can convert animal manure and human excreta into a renewable, reliable, and affordable source of energy. Biogas, therefore, helps to tackle environmental, health, and energy supply challenges and directly contributes to SDG 13.”


Environmental benefits

The programme benefits the environment by reducing the pollution of waterways and greenhouse gas emissions. The clean energy produced by a digester can be used to power stoves for cooking, as well as appliances such as lamps and boilers. The generation of biogas also creates a valuable fertilizer by-product contributing to increased agricultural yields. The impact so far is impressive: 500.000 tonnes of CO2e is saved per year, 15.935 hectares of forest is preserved (that is 25.000 football pitches!) and since 2007, 253.082 kg fuel has been saved. “We will continue to stimulate the market growth until it becomes mature and can self-sustain. The operating cost could come from grants or, as a new possible opportunity, from the carbon credit revenue directly generated from the programme itself.


Young Expert Programme

Long Phan joined YEP Programmes in 2020, being part of batch 21. Long Phan: “What I value the most in the Young Expert Programme is its well-rounded approach. The Nexus Carousel series - part of the YEP training programme - provided me with comprehensive knowledge, which will help me further develop myself professionally. An example is what I learned about the agrivoltaics models in Vietnam (a solar PV and agriculture combination system). Thanks to the practical knowledge from the Intercultural Work Carousel, I am more confident in working in an international environment and knowing the method to address unavoidable conflicts at work, has created a more conducive work environment and thus improved my performance. Furthermore, the Storytelling training has not only benefitted me in my current projects but also helps me in my career as a data scientist, where I will be required to deliver insights from data effectively. Lastly, I appreciate how YEP Programmes tailors to the individual needs by offering the Personal Development track and personal coaching, which I find unique when comparing it to similar training programmes and I consider it a huge advantage. Participating in YEP Programmes means I am part of a large community of talented young leaders, where I can learn from, and share experiences and knowledge with Young Experts all over the world who have been/will work/are interested in the same topics. It’s an opportunity for further cross-border collaboration for enhanced impact.”

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