The financial and economic feasibility of rural household biodigesters for poor communities in South Africa

04 Jul 2014

Given the persistence of systemic poverty in, most notably, the rural parts of South Africa, the question is whether the use of biodigesters as a source of energy offers potential solutions to some of the difficulties and development needs faced by people in these areas. At the core, this translates into whether this technology would be financially and economically feasible for installation and use by rural households. Here we conduct both a financial and an economic cost-benefit analysis in one such community based on survey data from 120 households. Analysis of these data and supporting literature reveals that a biodigester is not a financially feasible investment for a rural household. Substantial economic benefits are, however, found to make a biodigester a worthwhile investment from a broader societal perspective. This is a compelling argument for further study and the consideration of government support in the light of broader economy-wide benefits.