Biomass in Africa could have a great potential and benefit from EU aid. The Commission announces new rural electrification projects which will provide access to energy to more than 2 million people in poor rural areas.
European Commission Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, will today reveal the 16 energy projects which will receive €95 million funding, thanks to the EU’s new rural electrification programme. The projects include hydro, wind, solar and biomass projects across nine African countries. Today’s announcement is only part of the overall EU effort in tackling energy poverty and creating an enabling environment for growth. The EU aims to allocate more than 3 billion euro worth of grants in the 2014-2020 financial period to support sustainable energy projects in about 30 countries that see energy as a focal sector for development. This will leverage between 15 and 30 billion euro in loans and equity investment, thus enabling to plug the gaps in energy infrastructure projects and power businesses, schools, homes and hospitals. Several programs in the past funded electrification in Africa which is major concern to alleviate poverty.
Ahead of the event, Commissioner Piebalgs said: “These innovative projects are a real step forward in terms of bringing energy to some of the most remote and poor areas in Africa. The benefits of rural electrification are manifold – by connecting people to clean energy, we’ll improve healthcare, education, and opportunities to make a living in the area.”
The projects will address energy challenges in rural areas and are part of the EU’s last Energy Facility Call for Proposals, which focused specifically on improving access to modern, affordable and sustainable energy services for rural poor, by promoting renewable energy solutions as well as on energy efficiency measures building on proven successful actions.
Biomass sustainabiltiy and energy crops in Africa
Despite of different approach for biofuels that has been promoted by many companies in the past, sustainable solid biomass from is compatible to reforestation with many species providing climate change adaptation, increases in organic matter for soil and improvement on fauna and biodiversity. Solid biomass for heat and power can be extremely efficient and sustainable if perennial species (grasslands and forestry, bushes or srhubs) are considered.
Biomass energy, mainly through wood and charcoal, represents approximatively 80% of the total energy consumption (EU says) in Sub-Saharan Africa, and up to the equivalent of one third of the total household economy. Biomass energy sources are available locally, renewable and of wide origins, giving therefore the opportunity to be used for fuels, power production and products that would otherwise be made from fossil fuels. Managed forestry plantations and native woods could avoid millions of deaths and impacts from fires as explained here.
Check out this great video about biomass in Africa. Tanzania, is among eight countries is sub Sahara Africa to benefit from the biomass energy initiative for Africa.
Several areas in Africa have significant amounts of bioamss residues, however distances can be a major challenge. A limiting factor that will require governments and NGOs to cooperate considering perennial grasslands and forestry managed resources with extremely high soil benefits. Several companies offer solutions for small scale applications like this one.
Africa can have great sinergies when considering reforestation for sustainable biomass instead of first generation biofuels. We do not support multinationals just promoting palm oil plantations. We consider all stakeholders and local electricification is what needs to support. Biomass is abundant in Africa and it can help food security vert clearly.
Africa accounts of millions of hectares of degraded and deforested lands with great applicatibility for cultivated and residual biomass projects. Additionally, self consumption and power or industrial heating/cooling applications are feasible. Small and medium gasifiers could be installed in many areas and biomass crops like Napier grass, Giant reeds, Short rotation coppice and many hardy tropical grasses like guinea grass can be managed sustainaibly with minimal impact and great benefits to the soil.
Several potential plantations are viable options in the darkest continent. In particular there excellent alternatives (such as agroforestry for energy) compatible with food or cattle production as we show in the following video in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Additionally, Africa has a great potential to export biomass to Europe in particular from western coastal regions. See more on markets and biomass potential business in developing countries.
Biomass markets worldwide are blossoming and Africa can be a great biomass supplier for Europe