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Biomass to Energy

The Context

 

Bush encroachment affects about 26 million hectares in Namibia‛s prime agricultural land. Because of high bush density, the potential for cattle grazing is much lower and productivity of the land decreases. This causes losses of over N$700 million every year to the national economy. Invader bush, if used as a source of biomass energy, could provide electricity. slide1

Southern and western parts of Namibia have little wood. Central areas, especially around Otjiwarongo and Grootfontein, have too much wood – large parts of these areas are covered in dense thorny bushes and trees, called invader bush which cause bush encroachment. Northern areas are generally well wooded but there are problems with ‘deforestation‛, or too much wood being cut down by people for construction, cooking and heating purposes.

Thorn bush encroachment caused by overgrazing and lack of water reduces plants and animal bio-diversity.   Bush encroachment is the beginning of the desertification process.

CCF Journey Started in 2001

 

In 2001, the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) collaborated to find a habitat improvement programme that would be ecologically and economically viable. Research identified a business opportunity to process encroaching bush into high-heat, low-emission, compacted logs for use as a cooking fuel or for home heating. CCF Bush (PTY) Ltd. was established to manufacture the Bushblok product in 2004.

CCF Biomass Technology Demonstration Centre

 

buschblok

 

CCF BUSH Pty Ltd manufactures wood fuel briquettes from thickened thorn bush. The product is harvested in an environmentally and socially appropriate means, and is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. The harvested bush is dried in the sun and then fed into a mechanical chipper before being transported to the processing plant where the chips are milled to size. These smaller chips are dried and then passed through an extrusion press. Under heat and pressure the chips bond and are extruded as compacted Bushblok product, cut to size, bundled, wrapped and labeled, ready for distribution. Bushblok is currently sold in Africa and Europe. Compared to standard firewood, BUSHBLOK™ is much more economical, as it is value priced and burns longer. It is not only classified as smokeless fuel, but the amount of ash left after the fire is extinguished is minimal.

FactSheet – Bushblok

In early 2016 CCF began construction of a new facility Biomass Technology Demonstration Center (BTDC).  This center will demonstrate a range of related manufacturing technologies including briquette logs, charcoal hex log, lump charcoal, oriented strand plywood, and biogas electrical generation.  In particular, the biogas will be used to power the CCF center.

This short video provides an overview of CCF including the Bushblok operation (halfway through the video).

Namibia Energy Sources – The Opportunity

 

About 80 per cent of all rural households in Namibia rely on wood fuel as their main source of energy. The population in Namibia is small and dispersed with the more densely populated areas in the north and, on the other hand, with vast and thinly populated areas in the south. Consequently grid extension is very costly. Considering the situation of deforestation in Namibia and limited possibilities for grid extension, energy efficiency improvement and alternative rural energy solutions are needed. Some piloting activities have already been carried out with government support.

Namibia is very dependent on imported electricity from non-renewable energy sources. In 2008, the imported energy counted 52% and of the remaining local generation of 48% about 88% was produced by hydropower. The peak load in 2008 was about 430 MW.  (source: eepafrica.org)