THE German energy sector is considering the Namibian biomass sector as a potential replacement for its coal energy as the country tries to reduce its carbon footprint.
The country revealed its intentions on making Namibia its potential supplier of biomass inputs during a 'Wood Energy' conference in Würzburg, where Namibia presented itself as a prospective partner country.
With 250 entrepreneurial participants, the conference was held under the theme 'Sustainable Solutions For Climate Protection', and is the national get-together for German biomass.
The managing director of the German Wood Energy Association, Matthias Held, said the country has taken a political decision to stop burning coal, and Namibia's estimated 300 million tonnes available to harvest biomass is the potential alternative.
The political motivation is to contribute to the national climate protection goals of the Federal German government, and to the Paris Agreement.
The biomass will be harvested within the scope of rangeland restoration, as it's estimated that more than 30 million hectares of rangeland are considered to be bush-encroached in Namibia.
“Bush biomass from Namibia clearly has the potential to play a role in the biomass import sector – competiveness and the sustainability of production and supply provided,” Held stated.
He added that his country is expected to make investment decisions within the next three to five years.
According to the Namibian Biomass Industry Group (N-BiG), currently only 1,36 million tonnes per year of bush biomass are utilised, and harvesting and logistics structures need to be upscaled significantly to reap the socio-economic and ecological benefits of the sector.
The conference was attended by a Namibia delegation of 12, comprising government officials, experts on environmental issues, researchers and sector representatives, including from the Namibian Charcoal Association (NCA), the Walvis Bay Corridor Group and N-BiG.
The visit was facilitated by the GIZ project on bush control and biomass utilisation (BCBU).
The participants explored options based on a two-fold and complementary approach: large-scale international off-take opportunities, as well as technology solutions for application in Namibian biomass value-addition.
Angus Middleton, executive director of the Namibia Nature Foundation, said biomass represents a potential pathway to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, there is an undersupply of biomass in Germany, which requires off-takers to source internationally.
The director of forestry in the ministry of agriculture, Joseph Hailwa, said participating in the conference was a success for the Namibian biomass sector.
“We promoted the Namibian case and linked to relevant players in Germany,” he stated.
The delegation further explored options of cooperation with a sophisticated research and development network. It is envisioned to establish a Namibian Biomass Research Centre.
Currently, there is a tender running by GIZ to ship 14 containers of biomass (bush and logs) to Germany and Belgium for further in-depth testing and value-addition research.
GIZ indicated that the overall objective of BCBU is to develop strategies and measures which effectively address bush encroachment, with emphasis on creating value-addition opportunities.
Cabinet agreed early this year to extend bush harvesting in communal areas to enhance sustainable utilisation of natural resources. Bush harvesting was only limited to commercial farmers, leading to them dominating the sector as 650 charcoal majority producers in the country are from commercial farmers.
SOURCE: The Namibian - Nghinomenwa Erastus