Biomass Gasification for Decentralized Electricity Generation in Malawi

Inadequate access to energy poses a critical challenge to Malawi’s economic development. Less than 13% of the population has access to electricity and those who do face insufficient and unreliable supply. Yet to date, renewable energy –both on-grid and off-grid has played a small role in electrification. The objective of this study was to design, develop and characterize rice husk gasification system as an alternative source of power for electricity generation. The biomass-based power project aimed to provide access to clean energy services, primarily focusing on productive load using locally available biomass feedstock. The study was carried out by collecting data in the paddy plantation area, paddy production, rice milling industry. It was decided based on the potential analysis of collected data to develop a rice husk gasifier power plant in Wowo Cluster Village, Nkhulambe Extension Planning Area (EPA), Phalombe District. The basic engineering design and detailed engineering for this plant were carried out after selecting the plant location. The plant was designed for 100 kWe electricity capacity using a fixed bed reactor equipped with a gas cleaning system. The design was made as simple as possible so that a local manufacturer can fabricate the reactor. In addition, the economic analysis has been carried out using the primary methods of NPV (Net Present Value), IRR (Internal Rate of Return) and PBP (Pay Back Period) assessment. The results showed that the economic viability of the proposed system is always acceptable with positive PBP and NPV values.