Women’s perceptions on the integration of solar powered home systems and biogas and its potential to improve gender disparities in energy, 2012.
M MURAMBADORO & H TAZVINGA. CSIR Natural Resources and the Environment.
South Africa’s Department of Energy seeks to deliver adequate and affordable energy to rural communities by providing a mix of alternative energy resources at a reasonable cost. The extension of the national grid to the rural areas has been hampered by several factors such as long distances, high cost of tension lines and the relatively low energy demand in rural areas which does not compensate the cost of long-range transmission lines from the national grid. Availability and access to commercial fuels is very low due to high costs of fuels which are exacerbated by high delivery costs to rural areas.
Traditional energy sources such as firewood are becoming scarce and expensive. The current rate of collection and use of wood is not sustainable as woody biomass is harvested at a rate greater than trees are being planted and allowed to mature. Rural livelihoods depend on natural resources and their depletion coupled by the impacts of climate change makes the poor even more vulnerable. The government has rolled out thousands of solar home systems, but these can only cater for lighting and entertainment.
This paper looked at women’s perceptions on the feasibility of integrating of biogas in the rural energy mix to address their thermal needs in rural Limpopo. Women’s health suffers from hauling heavy loads of wood for long distances and from cooking over smoky fires. Biogas has the potential to reduce women’s workload which empowers them as they have more time to participate in educational, social, economic and political activities.