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Green Power from Pigs
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Green Power from Pigs

Pig waste stinks, but it can also be a valuable source of renewable energy. We visit a farm in Thailand that is turning unwanted muck into biofuel.

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Segment 1

VOICEOVER
Pigs, specifically their waste, which is often regarded as a smelly nuisance, has increasingly become a valuable source of renewable energy. When this pig farm in northern Thailand started a few years ago, people living in the surrounding area complained that the pigs created a dreadful smell and a public health hazard. They petitioned the local district office to relocate the farm. Kiangkom Kommalai is the owner.
KIANGKOM KOMMALAI
Then the local agriculture officer suggested that I install a biogas system to convert animal waste into biogas.
VOICEOVER
With financial support from the local authority, Kiangkom built a cement container, called a digester, to produce biogas. It's a fairly simple operation, says Yubon Yawai from the local District Administration.
YUBON YAWAI
First you collect the waste and transfer them into the digester. The decomposed waste inside the container will generate methane gas which is then piped off to the households.
VOICEOVER
Thailand is a fast-developing country. It relies on foreign oil for more than 50 percent of its energy needs. To ensure continued sustainable development, the country has actively encouraged its citizens to find ways to conserve energy, including an effort to spread the use of renewable energy in rural communities. This remote mountainous village in northern Thailand is home to over 200 Lisu ethnic families. Like most other villagers, they lack information about and access to biogas. Loyi did not know that the waste of four pigs is sufficient to produce enough cooking gas for her family. Like everyone else in the village, she relies on firewood as the main source of cooking fuel. Each morning, she gets up at 4:30 to prepare breakfast. It often takes her an hour just to get the fire started -- and longer if the wood is damp.
LOYI
If it's raining, it's very difficult to get the wood set on fire. It gives out a lot of smoke too.
VOICEOVER
To encourage villagers to use biogas, the UN Small Grants Program, funded by the Global Environment Facility, launched a pilot project to build a digester in the village. Three other digesters are being built, and another nine are slated to be built over the coming year. Nicholas Keyes is from the UN Development Programme.
NICOLAS KEYES
The biofuel collectors are intended to demonstrate to people in agricultural communities there is a renewable energy resource in their community that they can use and that they can benefit from.
VOICEOVER
Despite the obvious benefits, villagers are reluctant to sign up for the service. Manop Yangjar, the Project Coordinator for the UNDP Small Grants Program, explains.
MANOP YANGJAR
They've never seen this before and they never use this kind of project. So it would very difficult for them to change their attitudes and their behavior. Some villagers they thought that if we produce gas, cooking gas, by pig manure, when we cook it can smell. Actually this is not true.
VOICEOVER
While some villagers continue their age-old practice of scavenging for firewood, many are beginning to realize the benefits and the convenience of biogas. Today, Loyi and her family have signed up for the service. She is eager to have her stove connected to the biofuel collector.
LOYI
Then I don't have to spend time to collect wood. And I will also save money, energy, and power.
VOICEOVER
The 500 pigs at Kiangkom's farm are now providing free biogas to over 100 local residents. Their only cost is a one?time charge of 400 baht, about USD$12, for the purchase of a pipe.
KIANGKOM KOMMALAI
We are all happy now. Everyone benefits from the biogas system.
VOICEOVER
There are over eight million pigs in Thailand. The drive to introduce biogas technology to rural communities is one of the latest efforts to provide better living, while conserving energy and reducing the effects of global warming.
VOICEOVER
This report was prepared by Patricia Chan for the United Nations.
TITLE
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