4.1 Energy assessment and planning
4.2 Research, development and demonstration
4.3 Transfer, adaptation and application of mature technologies
4.4 Information flows
4.5 Education and training
In the previous sections, the general development of the fuelwood/charcoal situation, and the strategies to improve it, have been briefly summarized. In the present section, the results and experiences from studies, Research and Development (R&D) and also implementation projects will be discussed. The time frame is the ten years since the Nairobi Conference. The objectives, and particularly the specific actions on fuelwood/charcoal, as presented in the NPA, will govern the discussion. Due to this, the main emphasis will be on fuelwood/charcoal in developing countries, but where appropriate some comments will also be given on the achievements in the industrialized world.
To facilitate the analysis, the same structure is used under the following headings:
- energy assessment and planning
- research, development and demonstration
- transfer, adaptation and application of mature technologies
- information flows
- education and training
Determine the physical NRSE resources and the present and future energy supply/demand balances. Identify, monitor and assess promising NRSE technologies. Strengthen institutional infrastructures for planning and research, as well as legislative and financial matters pertinent to the development and promotion of NRSE.
In general terms, but limiting the discussion to fuelwood/charcoal, the resource assessment capability was considerably improved during the 80's, and much more is known about fuelwood/charcoal supply and demand than was the case before the Nairobi Conference. There is still, however, a lack of information in many parts of the world on basic data including the sustainable woodfuel resource base.
Fuelwood/charcoal has become more visible in energy balances and energy planning in most developing countries. This was definitely not the case before the NPA. However, energy planners still generally pay much less attention to fuelwood/charcoal than to electricity and fossil fuels, even though fuelwood/charcoal takes the lion's share of the energy balance in the majority of developing countries. Specific wood energy planning has not become common.
There has not been any substantial monitoring or assessment of promising fuelwood/charcoal technologies for general energy planning purposes. The technology assessment that has taken place has been triggered by and addressed to the technology R&D community rather than the energy planners.
The institutional infrastructures have not been strengthened a great deal, at least not for the purpose of improved planning, legislation or finance related to fuelwood/charcoal.
NPA Task fulfilment:
The resource is better known than before, and fuelwood/charcoal has become an item in energy planning, but a lot remains to be done before fuelwood/charcoal receives the attention it deserves in comparison with its relative importance in the energy balances of developing countries.
Accelerate development of selected promising technologies. Strengthen institutional machinery for undertaking research, development and demonstration, as well as for links between research and development (R & D) and the production sector. Establish criteria for technical and economic evaluation. Implement demonstration projects related to NRSE.
The research, development and demonstration (R, D & D) in the fuelwood/charcoal area increased considerably in the first years of the NPA decade in almost all the areas of fuelwood/charcoal production and use, but has since dropped to levels that are becoming close to what they were before 1981. There are two main reasons for this trend-reversal. First of all, the oil price reductions during the 80's not only made certain woodfuel applications less attractive from an economic point of view, but also led to a much lower general priority for energy R&D in most countries' budgets. Secondly, several of the fuelwood/charcoal technologies or applications (for example, the case of gasifiers for power generation), that have been investigated and tested, have been more complicated to develop than was expected. These two reasons energy prices and technical problems - have led to a reduction of the budgets allocated to the promotion and dissemination of certain technical solutions.
The institutions selected to undertake research, development and demonstration activities on fuelwood/charcoal have developed slightly differently than the research, development and demonstration itself. After a period of expansion in the first half of the 80's, the institutions have remained more or less at the same level in terms of human resources. However, the amount of funds allocated for the development of research, development and demonstration was considerably reduced.
The links between research and development and the production sector, particularly in developing countries, have been extremely weak even when a clear improvement has taken place in the 80's in the involvement of farmers, foresters and the general public in fuelwood/charcoal projects. Relations between research, development and demonstration centres and industry or utilities are less visible.
It is not really clear what was meant by "establish criteria for technical and economic evaluation". Not much has been done in this area, probably because to a large degree this depends on the country and/or case-specific nature of such criteria.
Finally, demonstration projects have been carried out in most fuelwood/charcoal technical areas, as well as in most regions of the world, with great support from donor agencies from developed countries.
NPA Task fulfilment:
Research, development and demonstration projects as well as institutional capacity in the fuelwood/charcoal area increased substantially in the years following the adoption of the NPA. The pace of technology development has slowed down considerably during the last few years, mainly because of the decreased energy prices.
Accelerate transfer of NRSE technologies from developed to developing countries, and increase cooperation among developing countries. Strengthen national capabilities for assessment and evaluation of technology, as well as adaptation, manufacture and maintenance of NRSE equipment.
A differentiation has to be made between actions undertaken in different technology areas. In the case of stoves, which do not require any sophisticated equipment or technology, transfer of knowledge and build-up of national manufacturing capacity have been very important elements from the beginning.
In the case of gasifiers for power generation, at the other extreme, technology transfer and national manufacturing have only been tried in a few countries. The same applies to other advanced equipment such as wood-fuelled industrial boilers, or high-capacity briquette presses.
The use of steam engines for power generation in decentralized systems for rural communities or industrial users has received less attention than it deserves. However, the few cases implemented by the public or private sector have been quite successful.
Also waste wood based technology for heat and power generation in forest industries, (sawmills, particle board mills, etc.) has achieved widespread application in developed countries with excellent results.
Nevertheless, there are very few examples of successful fuelwood/charcoal technology transfer to developing countries (including manufacturing capacity build-up) outside stoves and a few other low-tech, low-investment technologies. In most cases this may be explained either by the lack of economic incentives, e.g. the fuelwood/charcoal technologies have not been sufficiently competitive compared to other fuels and other needs have been seen as more urgent in the general poverty situation of developing countries; or by the lack of technical success, i.e. the fuelwood/charcoal technologies have not performed well enough to convince potential investors of their technical feasibility.
Cooperation among developing countries has not increased as much as expected. There are some cases, such as the FAO networks in Asia and Latin America, that try to assist countries in the exchange of information and experience, but there is not much in terms of hard-core technology transfer and cooperation. A limiting factor may well be that donors tend to prefer bilateral aid.
Technology transfer between developed countries has been fair. New boiler or gasifier types, briquetting or pelletizing systems and several other technologies, as well as manufacturing capability, relevant to woodfuel use have been introduced in a variety of woodfuel using countries. The common denominator in these cases has been a larger scale of applications than in developing country, as well as the direct involvement of industries with a commercial interest in either the manufacture or the utilization of the equipment.
Most of the technical solutions required for the use of fuelwood/charcoal as a sustainable source of energy are available and mastered. However, lack of adequate funds and economic incentives in developing countries are the main reasons for the poor results achieved in the area of fuelwood/charcoal conversion into energy and are the main reasons for the limited impact achieved in this field.
NPA Task fulfilment:
This is an area of work in which there are mature technologies ready for dissemination and use and in which developing countries have to a certain extent possibilities for participation in manufacturing them. Lack of financial and economic support is the main constraint on its development even at present energy prices. Commercial technology transfer among developed countries has been more successful.
Assess existing information systems and strengthen international and national information centres, integrating them into a regional and later, if deemed feasible, a global information network. Develop standardized terminologies and procedures for collection and dissemination of information, and support maximum availability of patent information.
The information flow on the development and implementation fuelwood/charcoal technology has increased considerably since the Nairobi Conference. There are numerous bulletins and newsletters, as well as various networks and informal groups for information exchange. Information is relatively easy to find and accessible.
In the developing countries, activities carried out by FAO through the Regional Wood Energy Development Programme for Asia and the Pacific and the Latin America Dendroenergy Network, may be mentioned as examples. The situation has improved considerably in the last six/seven years. However, the situation depends very much on the contacts and projects established in specific countries. The reason for this is mainly lack of the national financial and personnel resources that are necessary to maintain libraries or systematic information centres.
In developed countries, the Producer Gas Round Table Meeting and the Consultative Network on Rural Energy are good examples of coordination of activities in the field of gasification and wood energy, as well as information flow among institutions involved in rural energy in Europe. Lack of continuing support is leading to a reduction in the actions and activities in developed countries. In addition, good exchange of information and experts was initiated between developing and developed countries. Unfortunately the lack of funds has led to a reduction in these activities.
Where some isolated actions were initiated under TCDC, they have been discontinued, again due to the lack of funds.
Little has been done on standardization of terminologies and information methodologies, and the same goes for patent information.
NPA Task fulfilment:
The availability of information has improved greatly since 1981. To some degree this may be credited to actions initiated by the NPA.
Assess the needs for trained personnel, as well as the capability of existing institutions, to provide training and strengthen institutions accordingly. Establish training programmes for decision-makers, planners and technical experts, as well as educational programmes for the general public on the opportunities for NRSE.
International courses and scholarships have been made available for fuelwood/charcoal, as well as for other NRSE. Many individuals at all levels from developed and developing countries have participated in such activities, often, but not always, carried out in a developed country. Examples of these activities are: wood-based energy seminars in Sweden, wood energy courses in the Netherlands and charcoal workshops organized by FAO, ESMAP, the Canadian Agency for Development and France.
Following the political decline of fuelwood/charcoal, the amount of training opportunities has decreased in recent years.
Less has been done on education and training within the national educational systems in developing countries where it is still uncommon to find courses on fuelwood/charcoal-related technologies. The same holds for national training programmes for decision-makers and planners.
Educational programmes for the general public have been tried, mainly as part of extension activities, e.g. improved stove dissemination or tree planting campaigns. There are few cases where fuelwood/charcoal has become a permanent subject in propaganda or in the school curriculum.
NPA Task fulfilment:
More education and training programmes at the international level exist than before the NPA. Not so much has been done at the national level and fuelwood/charcoal is not yet a common subject in compulsory education.