By Caty Weaver

This is Bill White with the VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT.

A new report published by the German Appropriate Technology Exchange discusses the increasing acceptance and use of biogas in Thailand. Biogas is a natural gas made from animal and vegetable waste. The GATE report says biogas is a good replacement for fuels such as wood, charcoal, oil, petroleum and electricity.

Biogas is produced from the bacteria and other micro-organisms found on waste material. Biogas is produced as the micro-organisms feed on the waste in a process that does not include oxygen. Biogas is mostly methane gas. Biogas systems capture methane and direct it into homes where it can be used for cooking, lighting and heating. Farmers can use biogas in other ways. They can use it to power different kinds of equipment. And they can use it to keep young farm animals warm. Farmers also can use a by-product of biogas called slurry. Slurry is a mix of water and solid waste that can be spread on crops to help them grow.

Some of the gas produced in the biogas system is not usable. It is released into the air. However, GATE says farm waste releases even more polluting gas into the air when there is not a biogas system present. GATE says the air quality in farm areas is improved when there is less waste material on the ground. Biogas systems also prevent the waste of farm animals from entering rivers and other water sources.

GATE says there were more than six-hundred-seventy biogas systems in place in northern Thailand last year. The report says biogas is of special importance in Thailand because of the current dependence on wood and charcoal for fuel. It says there has been major ecological damage in areas where too many trees have been cut down for firewood.

The Thai-German Biogas Program is working to place biogas systems throughout Thailand. GATE says the plan first called for about one-thousand-one-hundred systems to be in place by Two-Thousand-Three. However, there has been much greater demand than expected. Biogas Program officials now expect to reach that goal by next year. The cost to build the most popular kind of biogas system is about five-hundred dollars. The Thai-German Biogas Program offers loans to farmers.

This VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT was written by Caty Weaver. This is Bill White.

Voice of America Special English