The concept is simple; Prisoners go to the toilet, their waste is collected, it makes gas, the gas goes to the kitchen, prisoners cook using the gas, eat the food they cook, go to the toilet… and the whole process starts again. I have visited Nsinda Prison in Rwamagana district in eastern Rwanda twice in the past couple of months to put together a story for Reuters on biogas in the prison and renewable energy throughout Rwanda. There’s a taster below. More photographs will follow in a week or so.
NSINDA PRISON, Rwanda, Nov 21 (Reuters) – A prisoner ignites a faint blue flame under one of 10 massive stoves in a prison kitchen in eastern Rwanda to start preparing a maize and bean lunch for the inmates.
Once powered by costly, environmentally-damaging firewood, the kitchen in Nsinda prison now runs on a free, renewable resource – the waste from nearly 8,000 inmates, many jailed for their part in the 1994 genocide, and manure from cows.
Rwanda has installed biogas plants in all 14 of its prisons, one small part of the central African nation’s plan to use renewable energy rather than the charcoal and firewood that provides 85 percent of its energy needs.
It plans to take biogas into Rwandan homes, where just 14 percent of the population currently has access to electricity, the Energy Ministry says.
“Before using biogas, we were using 1 billion Rwandan francs ($1.7 million) to buy firewood each year. After using biogas, we have reduced that amount by 85 percent.” Emmanuel Ndori, director of biogas production in Rwanda’s prisons, told Reuters. read more
UPDATE 18 December, 2011: I produced a slideshow about the biogas system in Nsinda Prison for the BBC.