SimGas initiative
Farmers collect manure and organic waste to put in their biodigester. Photo source: SimGas

Worldwide, about 3 billion people use solid fuel for cooking. Every year, the smoke from traditional stoves causes indoor air pollution, leading to the premature deaths of approximately 4 million people annually. East Africa has the world's highest percentage of people use biomass for cooking. Rural households do not have an alternative solution as less than 4 to 8% have access to electricity.

There is a need and opportunity for a clean cooking solutions based on renewable energy in rural East Africa. Biogas, a 100% clean cooking fuel generated by digesting cow manure, can really make a difference here, where dairy farming is the main occupation of rural households. Using domestic biogas also has the potential to eliminate one of the world's top causes of death and disease.

SimGas is working to change this by improving the lives of 10 million people with its domestic biogas products by 2030. Its target market consists of smallholder farmers with 1-10 dairy cows. A typical customer owns a house, some land to grow crops, and is or wants to be a member to a local dairy cooperative. These customers have no or unreliable electricity access and use wood or charcoal for cooking.

By creating exclusivity agreements with 108 dairy cooperatives in Kenya, SimGas can offer biogas loans to members (1,500 members per cooperative). This financial solution enables customers to repay the biogas system loan monthly, from monthly milk money, and makes use of the existing infrastructure of local dairy cooperatives

By 2022, increased biogas use could have significant benefits for health, the environment and the climate. SimGas estimates that increased access to clean household energy will rise from 2500 in sales today, to 40,000 in the next five years, with the potential to impact 200,000 people. By 2022 SimGas expects to save 7,102 Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs). 296,800 tonnes of firewood and $26 million in energy costs will be saved by replacing charcoal and wood with biogas. Cooking on biogas reduces carbon emissions by 5-10 tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2eq) per household per year, and SimGas expects annual cumulative emission reductions to increase from the current 10,000 tonnes to 360,000 tonnes CO2eq in 2022.

In Africa technologies like bio-digesters have a lot of potential. They reduce a number of short-lived climate pollutants, like black carbon and methane, and improve household health by providing a cleaner cooking fuel. This technology has the potential to grow a new energy sector in Africa and reduce poverty.