This is a chapter in a book entitled “Bioenergies in East Africa between challenges and opportunities” Edited by Marco Setti, Daria Zizzola 2016.
The issues of high costs, rapid depletion of fossil fuel-based energy sources, and global climate change due to increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from fossil fuel combustion have led to an increase in the interest of researchers towards finding alternative renewable energy sources. In Africa, the population size, urbanization, economic development and energy demand are expected to drastically increase in the coming decades. Without the development of renewable energy, GHG emissions will continue to rise and drive global warming, with severe consequences for the energy-agro-food nexus. In the context of global concern over mitigating climate change and addressing problems at the energy poverty nexus, biogas energy is receiving growing attention in developed and developing countries. Based on an extensive literature review on biogas plant and referring to internal documents with key-informants and stakeholders, the intent of this work is to provide an overview of the present status, opportunities and challenges of biogas technology in East Africa, with a focus on Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania. This paper explores the main challenges related to climate change, factors that can enhance adoption of biogas plants, and finance, which will contribute in creating sustainable energy for the society. The amount of GHG reduction, electricity production, and avoided CO2 emissions are also estimated. The results of the study show that if Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania use their full potential of organic waste, they can avoid the emission of 237,605, 136,906 and 142,906 tonnes of CO2 /MWh, respectively. Moreover, by adopting biogas technology, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania can conserve 6,722, 3,873 and 4,042 tonnes of wood, respectively, on a daily basis. The study further advocates the multiple other uses of biogas beyond cooking and lighting. By using biogas upgraded technologies, purified methane can be used to generate approximately 4,304 MW of electricity in Ethiopia, along with, 248 MW in Kenya and 259 MW in Tanzania.