Energy in Africa  :: English Version


New energy solution
Hugo De Koning
Published: 01-AUG-03

With present drives over the world to combat greenhouse gas emissions, to arrest deforestation and desertification as well as to prevent pollution, the use of biomass as a renewable fuel has come into focus for some years now in industrialised countries. One of the techniques developed and which now is commercially available, is biomass gasification. Hugo De Koning investigates.

Biomass residue streams from industries such as sunflower oil production, paper mills, saw mills, thee plantations, palm oil plantations and sugar extraction industries, for example, are all suited for the gasification process.

Because of the large potential present in Africa to use biomass in this environmental friendly manner and because of the need to use these as effective as possible, it becomes viable to apply these developed techniques for small and medium sized plants in Africa. Obtaining energy from biomass is becoming more attractive because industrialised countries such as The Netherlands provide subsidy schemes to encourage co-operation with emerging markets such as Tanzania, South Africa and Mozambique.

Biomass gasification technology

The industrial or agricultural processes as mentioned earlier, all need heat to generate energy. Cogeneration of heat and power becomes especially viable at more remotely located industries or enterprises or at locations where the electricity or fuel price is high and the reliability of the power supply is low.

Biomass fuel plants, compared to those using fossil fuel for electrical power generating plants, are mostly smaller scale plants because of the limited needs for the heat and/or power at the site and because of the limited availability of the biomass.

If, in some cases there is not enough biomass available, one can also consider co-firing or co-gasification options of biomass with other organic waste and even if necessary a small(er) quantity of fossil fuels.

The company HoSt BV from the Netherlands has developed and is building CFB plants for gasifying biomass on a small to medium scale (up to eight mWth to 16mWth) and can supply these on a turn-key basis. HoSt performed gasification tests in pilot plants with many types of biomasses. Subsidy schemes HoSt is expanding its business towards the African continent and projects are executed and identified with the South African consultancy firm Waste Energy Management. As a Dutch supplier of energy equipment, HoSt could make additional subsidies from the Dutch government available to assist in realising proposed projects. Dutch subsidy tenders as part of PSOM (Programme for Co-operation with Emerging Markets) are open since April 2003 in particular for countries such as Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa.

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