First published by Xinhua HAVANA, 26 February

Cuba is geared up to expand the application of biogas as part of a campaign to promote sustainable development, especially in the agricultural sector.

Experts with the Cuban Society for Promotion of Renewable Energy Sources and Environmental Protection (Cubasolar) convened on Tuesday to analyze the viability of some biogas projects presented at a national forum on biogas last week.

At the meeting, Cubasolar member Jose Antonio Guardado Chacon stressed the importance of awakening an interest in biogas by publicizing its practical uses and advantages. Biogas is primarily composed of methane, a greenhouse gas created when organic matter breaks down.

Experts believe that 6.4 billion tons of methane gas is released into the atmosphere worldwide each year, representing 15 percent of all greenhouse gases.

In Cuba, biogas is seen not just as a renewable energy source, but also a source of environmentally- friendly fertilizer for use in organic agriculture.

Cuba began to use biogas in 1940 and has dramatically increased its usage since 1980 after more sophisticated plants that could more efficiently generate biofuel were built.

So far, Cuba has built some 700 biofuel plants at state farms and other agricultural centers throughout the country.

The government now hopes to further boost the trend by building small biogas plants at family farms to turn pig waste into biofuel. In addition, experts say biogas also has the potential to help generate electricity and thermal energy.

Cuba's Biogas Group has said Cuba has the potential to generate more than 400 million cubic meters of biogas a year.

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