One of the most obvious forms of renewable energy for Central
and Eastern Europe. Particular interesting are the use of waste wood for fuel
to replace coal and manure for biogas. The use of waste wood is often
cost-effective, but the wood is not always as close to the user as in the
present example. Biogas plants can have a reasonable economy, as in the
example here, but it is often difficult to make their prices competitive with
current prices of energy from conventional sources. Usually, their other
benefit, better handling of manure, must have high priority to justify biogas
Biomass use generates the highest
employment of all renewable-energy sources. Replacing coal with biomass
replaces jobs in coal mines with jobs in agriculture, biomass handling, and
biomass energy plants.
Biogas in Slovakia
The interest in using biomass
for energy production has been growing over recent years, along with
realisation of the environmental effect caused by use of fossil fuels.
In Eastern and Central Europe, where the prices of fossil fuels has
raised dramatically since the collapse of COMECON and the socialist
political system, the idea carries economical incentive as well.
Slovakia imports nearly 90% of its energy.
plants are most efficient on larger farms, where the animals can provide
the plant with sufficient amounts of manure. Biogas plants may also be
advantageous in light of the local environmental problems often caused
by large, concentrated populations of farm animals. Many of the
post-communist countries continue to practice an agriculture dominated
by large-scale farms.
Since 1989, the number of
large-scale farms has been decreasing in Slovakia, as have the numbers
of animals (cattle, pigs, and poultry) on the farms. Nevertheless, there
is still a high potential for biogas production in Slovakia, and it is
nearly unused. Today, 45% of the fattened pigs are kept on farms with
stabling for 500-1,200 animals and 30% on farms with stabling for more
than 1,200 animals. 94% of the dairy cows and 90% of young and fattened
cattle are kept in farms with stabling for 100-500 animals. Thus, the
technical potential for energy produced by biogas in Slovakia has been
calculated to be 4,190 GWh/year.
biogas technology is introduced in several countries, not only in Slovakia. In
Lithuania, a farm biogas plant was installed in a village near Kaunas in the
spring of 1998. With its three biogas digesters of steel, 300 m3
each, it will treat the sludge of 10,000 pigs and produce 2 mill. kWh of
electricity, replacing nuclear power production. It was designed by the Danish
Folkecenter for Renewable Energy and mainly produced by Lithuanian companies
that now possess the technology to produce more plants.