Introducing grid-connected biomass gasification units for rural energy access and community development

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The project aims to create an integrated development plan for increasing the income level of the low-income farming communities living in the dry zone of Sri Lanka. The project will introduce and demonstrate a community-based and community-owned 20kW wood gasification unit, running on locally planted crops. The system will be used as an on-grid system, feeding in and selling electricity to the national grid under a Standardized Power Purchase Agreement.

As well as power generation, the project will integrate organic farming (as Gliricidia is a Nitrogen Fixed legume it contributes to reduce the use of chemical fertilizer)community agro forestry and climate change adaptation programmes. Another outcome will be the knowledge transfer for manufacturing wood gasification power-plants in Sri Lanka. Consequently, this project will demonstrate an innovative small-scale and low-cost solution for communities with a focus on local business development as an alternative to large biomass plants.

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In total, kerosene lamps used by 504 canoe fishermen and 50 Ja-Kotu systems were replaced by efficient lamps. The resultant decrease in kerosene use amounted to 200,000 litres per year and CO2 emissions were reduced by 600 tonnes per year. Additionally, the local ecosystems benefits from the switch to sustainable lighting systems. From a social perspective 850 households (or about 4000 people) have improved their standard of living – and this does not include the indirect beneficiaries (e.g. fish traders). The six service centres in the project area contribute to the sustainability of the development by supporting the fishermen in the use of efficient lamps. Replicability The potential to replicate the measures undertaken in the project is very good. 85,000 canoe fishermen operate in the southern coastal water bodies of Sri Lanka, burning more than 100,000 litres of kerosene per night (equivalent to between 18 and 30 million litres per year). This fossil fuel use has been significantly reduced by the introduction of efficient lamps. The project helped to raise awareness among local and national politicians, media representatives and the population about the many advantages of efficient lamps. Lessons learned To make the lighting system 100% environmentally sustainable the batteries would have to be charged using renewable energy. Therefore sixteen solar photovoltaic systems were installed for testing and demonstrating purposes. However, as the electricity from the grid is highly subsidised in Sri Lanka and photovoltaic energy is still relatively expensive and has high initial investment costs, this solution was not economically feasible. Despite this drawback, using grid electricity to charge the batteries is an economic solution that reduces CO2 emissions and helps to alleviate the poverty of local fishermen.

To improve the livelihoods of fisherman at lakes in South-West Sri Lanka by replacing kerosene lamps with LED and CF lamps for night fishing