The first activities concerned with biogas date back to 1983. Within an agreement between the CDER (Centre de Développement des Energies Renouvellables) and the ORMVA (Office régionale de mise en Valeur Agricole) Haouz, three experts took part in a 20-day training course for biogas technology in China. During the course of various programmes between 1983 and 1990, 60 biogas plants alone of the Chinese fixed-dome plant type were built by ORMVA Haouz. In one cooperation with UNICEF lasting from 1984 - 91 (which was to improve sanitary conditions in rural areas) the Ministry of Agriculture (with the intention of protecting the forests and improving the general living conditions of farmer families) provided approx. 600,000 Dh for biogas technology. The aim of these efforts was to embed biogas technology in all ORMVAs and Division Provinciale de l'Agriculture (DPA) by means of intensive training programmes and the establishing of a national dissemination structure. At the same time a Centre de Formation was set up at the Ecole Nationale de l'Agriculture. In 15-day courses mostly carried out in Marrakesh, a total of 70 masons, 115 technicians and 61 agricultural extension officers were familiarised with biogas technology (Information ORMVA-Haouz). According to records held by the CDER, in 1992 there were 255 biogas plants in Morocco mostly with digester volumes of 10 m3. In addition, other individual biogas activities were carried out within the scope of various agreements, for example the 150 m3 batch plant built by CDER for research purposes. In 1989-90 a Chinese team constructed a 150 m3 community plant in Marrakesh.
The results of these efforts are disillusioning. According to an investigation carried out by CDER, 63 of the 139 plants (Chinese models) were completely at a standstill in 1990, 37 showed weak or just satisfactory production and only 39 were classified as "good". The ORMVA Haouz stated 40 of the 80 plants they had built to be completely incapable of function. A systematic analysis of the causes taking a differentiation between technical reliability and problems originating in social acceptance into consideration, is not yet available.
Special Energy Programme of the GIZ
The dissemination of biogas technology in the Souss-Massa region is a sub-project of the GIZ's Special Energy Programme Morocco which has been carried out since 1988. The purpose of the Special Energy Programme Morocco at that time was to improve the energy situation in rural areas - threatened by ecological degradation - by modifying and disseminating "renewable sources of energy". The focal point of project planning was to reinforce national project executing organisations for renewable energies, particularly the Centre de Développement des Energies Renouvellables (CDER).
In the field of biogas, the project concept sees the activities in Souss-Massa to have a pilot function for other regions of Morocco. Over the medium term the various regional ORMVAs and the Divisions Provinciale d'Agriculture (DPA) which are not actively involved in irrigated areas are to carry out concrete implementation and dissemination. The CDER is then to take over the role of the institution involved in research, development and advisory services and that of the actual national source of know-how. A Biogas Committee set up in spring 1992 on which decision-makers from various institutions affected by biogas dissemination are represented, is over the medium term, to constitute a legal link between the political decision-making levels and the corporations commissioned with biogas dissemination and is to be equipped with the relevant competence to define directives. The rehabilitation of 3 fixed-dome plants, the construction of three 12 m3 plants, five 20 m3 plants and two 85 m3 plants (mainly to drive motors) have demonstrated the technical efficiency biogas plants can provide with qualified construction planning and execution. It is the objective to integrate biogas technology into the structure of the ORMVA/Souss-Massa so that in future it will be offered to farmers as a normal (i.e. also highly subsidised) service of the ORMVA. It is intended to have biogas plants included in the credit framework for agricultural inputs of the agricultural bank Caisse Nationale de Crédit Agricole.
Potential for Biogas
The potential for biogas in the Souss-Massa region defined by the Biogas Office according to biomass available is approx. 20,000 biogas plants. This quite enormous potential is a projection of the data available on livestock numbers at the ORMVA, which would ultimately result in 7,146 12 m3 plants; 4,422 20 m3 plants; 4,584 30 m3 plants; 2,346 50 m3 plants and 1,416 85 m3 plants. The actual potential however is likely to be far lower although many of these farms have a relatively strong background of capital. Particularly larger farms have high-performance, pure-bred (3,000 farms in 1990) or cross-bred cattle.