AFIENYA, GHANA—On my second day in Ghana while in taxi en route to a biogas job site, I had a serendipitous discovery.
There are LPG gas stations in Ghana! I had never seen an LPG gas station before. (Here they call gas stations “filling stations.”)
The taxi driver backed up his car and opened the trunk.
Then he hooked the gas hose up to a tank in the trunk.
Upon further observation, I discovered that some but not all taxis use LPG and only very few non-taxis use LPG. Still, I am excited to see a fuel other than gasoline and diesel used to power automobiles. I had only recently heard that some countries use LPG or CNG for fuel in cars. These energy sources power 13 million and 11.2 million cars worldwide, respectively. In some places such as India, even Compressed Biogas (CBG) is used in cars.
I have read online that LPG burns more cleanly than gasoline or diesel. The conversion between gasoline and LPG is low cost with the major changes being a different fuel regulator, a the LPG tank and fuel lines and, sometimes, a change in the timing.
In Ghana, regular gasoline costs a constant GHS 1.169 per litre while LPG costs GHS 0.875 per kg . The energy density of LPG is about 49.3 MJ per kg and the energy density of gasoline is about 34.2 MJ per litre (according to wikipedia). This means, in a strictly energy-cost comparison, LPG is a cheaper fuel (0.0178 GHS per MJ) than gasoline (0.0342 GHS per MJ), presumably why some taxi drivers have chosen to use the LPG instead of gasoline. The price of LPG and gasoline here is regulated by the government so all filling stations throughout Ghana have the same prices.
Taxis powered by LPG in Ghana is strong evidence that there is a potential market for using biogas in cars in Africa. The market has already been created. This discovery shows that there is another way to make biogas production a profitable enterprise. See here for biogas powered VW Beetle.