In April 2022, the Pears Program team had the opportunity to visit the HomeBiogas headquarters in Beit Yanai. Afterwards, we had the chance to sit down with Guy Dotan, Head of Business Africa & Pacific to spotlight HomeBiogas and their inspiring global impact.
What is HomeBiogas's story? HomeBiogas started with three good friends with a shared goal of making free, renewable energy available to everyone in the world. After thoroughly analyzing and testing existing biodigester designs, it became clear that traditional systems had significant limitations, leading them to their goal of modernizing the technology and creating an efficient and durable biogas generator that was easy to install and accessible to all. In 2012, they formed HomeBiogas. The initial HomeBiogas prototype was piloted in 2014 and 2015 in underserved Bedouin villages and Palestinian communities. In 2016, the first-generation HomeBiogas system became commercially available, attracting customers from over 40 countries. Further research, fine-tuning, and streamlining processes resulted in the most advanced model that was lower cost, easier to set up, and had a larger capacity for treating waste and making biogas, in 3 model sizes. Since then distributors and aid organizations alike have joined in HomeBiogas’ efforts to educate about the many benefits of biogas technology. They have deployed over 10,000 biogas systems in 100+ countries worldwide, benefiting the environment and helping people transform theirlives and improve their health by shifting to clean renewable energy. Tell us about your technology! Overall, we produce small, medium, and large-scale, off-grid biogas systems that offer a comprehensive solution for waste management, renewable energy creation, clean cooking, natural fertilizer production, and sanitation for households and farmers in peri-urban and rural areas. We have three different models of our system: HBG 2, HBG 4, and HBG 7. Though all have different dimensions, max inputs, and daily cooking time, they all serve the same purpose of converting organic waste, including food waste, animal manure, and human waste into clean renewable energy, in the form of cooking gas & natural fertilizer. In the past 3 years, we’ve added the HBG Bio-Toilet, which serves as an off-grid and dignifying sanitation solution to manage human waste. It works by sending waste from the toilet directly into the HBG biodigester. This allows for water-saving, economic savings, and improved sanitation and hygiene for settings that may normally practice open defecation. We’ve also developed a Commercial System that can treat up to one ton of organic waste a day! The system is designed for industrial kitchens such as shared dining halls, hospitals, army bases or any commercial setting that produces food waste. The Commercial System is currently bein used at a kibbutz dining hall and a cafeteria in a boarding school in Israel and will be commercially available worldwide by the end of the year. What makes your product unique to emerging markets, and how did you begin engaging with them? Our products are fully off-grid, making them extremely useful and relevant for rural communities or developing countries with unstable connectivity. There is no requirement for electrical connection or intensive digging, and every Biogas system comes in two boxes with a kit for easy transport and installation. This is useful for emerging markets as it can be completely “DIY”, not requiring purchase or access to any outside items or materials. After initially piloting HomeBiogas in Israel and Palestine, we decided to expand our search globally to understand who could truly benefit from our product. We identified two main characteristics of populations that could find our product useful, including those living off-grid and those with environmental concerns. Through these populations, we understood that emerging markets shared these characteristics, as they had matching needs for clean cooking gas. We sought partnerships with distribution companies and/or development programs, and found ourselves first penetrating the markets of Kenya, Brazil, and Mexico. What would your advice be to companies considering looking at emerging markets? One word: focus! You don’t want to be everywhere, and you cannot be everywhere. Try to reach places and markets where your first milestone will be easier, as there is a lot of support and investment required to reach it. For example, in the markets we targeted, we weren’t introducing biogas, but instead introducing a scalable product that matched an underlying need. Another key to penetrating emerging markets is finding the right partner. We found success working with local people, as they could provide us with all the rules, regulations, cultural insights, and connections to our target audience. Watch this video to learn more about HomeBiogas and their global impact.