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The institutional systems are built entirely by Sky Link technicians, including sourcing materials and construction. As far as possible, materials are sourced and manufactured locally, including quarry stones, clean river sand, cement, bricks, ballast, steel bars and timber. In the case of the domestic biogas plant, the customer is told what materials to buy and how to dig the pit. Sky Link makes the measurements and marks the pit outline, and the householder can work at their own pace. A technician then comes in to install the system.
So far, approximately 200 domestic biogas systems have been installed, benefiting some 1,200 people (assuming an average household size of six). It has also installed institutional biogas systems in five schools and orphanages, benefiting about 2,500 students and one in Meru Prison, improving sanitation for 1,500 prisoners and staff. The company is currently providing consultancy services for the installation of a second prison system.
Biogas plants cut greenhouse gas emissions, by reducing the use of unsustainable fuel-wood and (particularly for the larger plants) reducing methane emissions from poorly-managed sewage disposal. Based on typical measurements on biogas systems from elsewhere, a SkyLink domestic system probably saves about 3.5 tonnes/year of unsustainable wood or 5 tonnes/year CO2, and a school system about 10 tonnes/year wood and 15 tonnes/year CO2. From estimates made by SkyLink, the prison saves about 22 tonnes/year wood and 33 tonnes/year CO2.
Owners of biogas systems have a better quality of life because less time and money is spent collecting or buying firewood. Mary Waringa Nguku, a farmer said “I was really suffering from a shortage of firewood. The only alternative was LPG, and that was becoming expensive. Then I saw the biogas at my brother’s place, and thought I must have it. It’s so fast to cook with, compared to firewood, and you don’t have to stay in the kitchen the whole time, feeding the fire. You can leave a pot simmering and just get on other things.”
Indoor air pollution from cooking with fuel-wood is greatly reduced, so cooks enjoy a healthier and cleaner environment.
Children who would previously have spent time collecting wood can now attend school more regularly. The slurry, used as a fertiliser, increases crop yield and food security for families.