From 13-17 March 2020, the University of Venda (UNIVEN) in partnership with United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), Capricorn District Municipality (CDM) and Global Environment Facility (GEF) held a combined workshop that was aimed at awareness raising and training of officials. These officials were coming from departments of Local Economic Development, Agriculture, Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism. Fifty-seven (57) young men and women were trained to be biogas operators and technicians in waste to energy conversion technology. 

These young men and women were drawn from four District Municipalities of Mopani (Maruleng), Sekhukhune (Fetakgomo – Tubatse), Waterberg (Mogalakwena) and Capricorn (Polokwane). The workshop was held at Makgoba Community Hall in Ward 29 of Polokwane Municipality, few kilometers outside Polokwane City. The first day of the workshop was on the general biogas technology basics, with the remaining four days dedicated on a more focused training of the youth on household biogas digesters implementation and entrepreneurial promotions among the youth. 

Workshop attendees listening to the facilitators

The training included theory behind biogas digesters, designs of biogas digesters and practical skills on how to construct and install household biogas plants. The training also covered all aspects around maintenance of the biogas digesters, the use of biogas, proper handling and use of the effluent as well as the health and safety concerns inclusive of methane leakage and the necessary measures needed to identify and resolve problems. In addition to community training, the project seeks to carry out a short awareness training workshop directed towards officials from local private and public sectors. 

UNIVEN is contracted to work on the capacity building and technology support system component of the main project. Moreover, the main aims of this project are to strengthen the institutional capacity as well as addressing the insufficient technical capacity through skills training, awareness raising and the development of knowledge products, in support of reducing risk of industry of waste to energy conversion. The project will form the base for the enhancement of sustainable development through environmental conservation and improved socio-economic conditions while addressing climate change mitigation. This project will further contribute and enhance the adoption and utilization of biogas technology in rural communities by increasing level of awareness, improving knowledge and skills of community residents, local authorities, private sectors, NGOs and other relevant stakeholders. Most importantly, the project will promote local production of biogas technology. 

According to Dr David Tinarwo who is a Renewable Energy, Sustainable Technology Consultant and Senior Physics Lecturer at UNIVEN’s School of 

Mathematical and Natural Sciences, this workshop aims at training young adults who are interested in farming, becoming technicians, plumbers and brick layers. He said the project got support of an amount of R600 000 from the Capricorn District Municipality for piloting this project in selected communities around Makgoba village. “It is up to us as project leaders, participating youth and community members to determine whether this project becomes a success or not.” He said there are possibilities that this project can create many jobs for young people in our rural communities. 

Ms Modjadji Rangwato who is an Air Quality Officer at Capricorn District Municipality said, depending on the success of this project, there are possibilities of further funding in the next financial year, and that this project can create a good number of permanent jobs if it becomes a success. She advised the workshop attendees to make sure that this project becomes a success. 

Mr Nokwazi Moyo from UNIDO gave a historical background of what biogas is and further explained the importance of why South Africa should start this kind of projects. He said in South Africa there is an appetite for biogas and Limpopo was chosen as a province suitable for biogas generation. “UNIVEN has done well so far in this project and by bringing together the trainers that have been trained to train others and become professionals.” Mr Moyo indicated that the project nationally has four components namely: Capacity building and Technology Support System; Biogas Market Development and Regulatory Framework; Technology Demonstration; Scaling up and Monitoring and Evaluation. 

Prince Monyai who resides at Makgoba village is one of the local workshop Facilitators. Monyai said the emergence of this workshop will assist a lot of South Africans, especially Limpopo residents because the country is currently faced with load shedding. He said this project will bridge this gap by producing a lot of gas that will be used by citizens of this country to cook even in the absence of electricity. Monyai further indicated that this project has brought hopes to jobless young people of Limpopo Province. “They will gain a lot of experience and make sure that this workshop becomes a success.” 

UNIDO is working in collaboration with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries; Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (MRE) and other entities in implementing the project entitled ‘Promoting organic waste-to-energy and other low carbon technologies in small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) scale, that is, accelerating biogas market development in South Africa’. The project further seeks to promote market-based adoption of integrated biogas technologies in small, medium and micro-scale enterprises in South Africa in line with the country’s drive to promote the development of the renewable energy sector and the green economy. This will be achieved through Capacity building and biogas technology support; Market development and Regulatory Framework; Technology demonstration and Scaling up. 

The project also contributes to the enhancement of adoption and utilization of biogas technology in rural communities by increasing level of awareness, improving knowledge and skills of community residents, local authorities, private sectors, NGOs and other relevant stakeholders. 

Biogas is a mixture of gasses formed when organic matter such as biomass, manure, municipal waste and green matter etc. is broken down in the absence of oxygen. Gasses produced through this anaerobic digestion process are primarily methane and carbon dioxide and if these are combusted with oxygen, this leads to an energy release of heat that may be converted to electricity or the gas that may be compressed into fuel. 

Above photo: Peet Steyn (2nd from left) and Mark Tiepelt (2nd from right) were presenters during day one of the workshop

 

Above: Thumbs up for the project by facilitators and participants of the workshop

Issued by: 

Department of Communications & Marketing 

University of Venda 

Tel: (015) 962 8525 

Date: 17 March 2020