One village in Indonesia is using a creative, cheap, and fairly unlikely means to power their homes: Tofu. Yep, those opinion-dividing cubes of mushy bean curd.
The remote Kalisari village in Indonesia has some 150 tofu businesses. Although, tofu is a good meat-free source of nutrition, producing it comes with its costs. Namely, it requires a lot of water to manufacture – around 33 liters (8.7 gallons) to make 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of tofu. On top of this, acetic acid is added to the manufacturing process. When the process is finished, the remaining wastewater is chucked into drainage systems and ends up in nearby rivers.
However, AFP reports that the hidden power of this water is now being harnessed. If treated with a certain type of bacteria within a special tank, a significant amount of biogas is produced. This gas is then piped directly into homes, where it can be used to fuel household stoves.
The village started with just one tank, and they now have five. This alone can provide clean energy to stoves and cookers for more than 100 households. Inspired by the project, officials from surrounding villages and towns are visiting Kalisari village in the hopes of implementing similar schemes, with backing from the Indonesian government's technology agency. There is also hopes that the tofu-powered biogas could be used to power lights in the village.
But the environmental concerns are only half the story for the villagers, since an unlimited supply of biogas is three times cheaper than the conventional refillable gas tanks, which are only sporadically delivered to the rural areas of Java.
Indonesia is frequently among the world’s top five culprits when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, the country said it will cut its carbon emissions by 29 percent by 2030, and it's in the process of curbing its large-scale deforestation. While tofu is not going to solve the world’s monolithic environmental problems, this small Indonesian village stands as an inspiration that many alternative means of energy are out there, often in the most unexpected of forms.