Agroindustry in Central America Bets on New Electricity Sources
Biomass is biological material derived from living, or recently living organisms. Specifically, biogas refers to a mixture of gases produced by the breakdown of such living or organic matter, in the absence of oxygen.
It can be produced from raw materials such as recycled coffee or
porcine waste. Biogas is a renewable source of energy, exerting a
significantly lower carbon footprint.
Implementing partners SNV and VIOGAZ, presented the results of their ECPA initiative on electricity savings and clean energy use through biogas for coffee processing and swine production.
Project presentations were held on March 4 and 7 in Honduras and Costa
Rica, respectively. These technical gatherings raised awareness with
regard to the potential for electricity generation from biogas as an
alternative energy source. In the food processing industry, this
technology has proven effective in lowering energy costs, managing
organic waste and reducing environmental risks linked to its treatment.
The ECPA implementers used the event to develop new knowledge and
encourage public and private institutions to engage in and support
renewable energy initiatives.
This ECPA initiative developed four pilot projects in two swine companies and two coffee cooperatives. Representatives from ARUCO Company in Honduras and RZ Group and Porcina Toledo
in Costa Rica, commented on their experience generating electricity
from biogas, and shared with the audience concrete results and benefits
derived of this initiative. Results included the establishment of four
biogas-based electricity generation systems with a collective annual
output of 107 MWh and reducing organic waste in sewage water by 72
percent. Important reductions in the Chemical and Biological Demands of
Oxygen (CDO/BDO) were also identified by both beneficiaries.
interventions also explained the integration and use of renewable
energy in their strategic processes, and how this electricity source
made their businesses more competitive at both productivity and
marketing levels. For instance, both companies highlighted a reduction
in their production costs by substituting from-the-grid electricity with
renewable energy generated from their own organic waste, as well as an
institutional image improvement in local and international markets by
being recognized as cleaner, environmentally responsible businesses.
Hence, both companies have reduced their carbon footprint while
the companies’ greenhouse gas emissions were reduced through methane
capture and their representatives stressed the challenges that national
productive sectors face in incorporating renewable energy sources in
their agricultural activities and thus contributing to climate change