The introduction of high-yielding and early maturing rice varieties in the humid tropics allows double or triple cropping where at least one harvest takes place during the wet season. Sun drying can no longer cope with this weather condition, resulting in high losses and low quality. Investigations have shown that low-temperature drying is the most promising alternative. However, in humid tropical countries, low-temperature drying requires a slight preheating of the ambient air by 6 to 9 K during adverse weather conditions. Kerosene burners, liquid petroleum gas burners and electric heaters are costly in operation and require fossil fuels which are not always available everywhere. Wood is becoming scarce and costly and efficient furnaces are expensive. Rice husk, a waste product of rice processing, is a cheap alternative. However, it is a difficult fuel and requires a specially designed furnace. The existing rice husk furnaces are smoky, labour-intensive and cannot keep a constant temperature rise of the ambient air which is required for low-temperature drying or have a power output which can only be used economically at industrial-scale dryer units.

The newly developed rice husk furnace is a down-draught type which assures clean and almost complete combustion. The tested prototype achieved a power output of 10 kW and can be scaled up or down in a wide range. The resulting temperature rise varies by ±1 K without any control system. The combustion efficiency of the rice husk is 99 percent and furnace efficiency reaches 84 percent. An economic assessment of the new rice husk furnace indicates that it is the most economical preheating system for low-temperature drying in the Philippines. (Contributed by: C.M. Braunbeck.)

For more information, please contact: Mr C.M. Braunbeck, Krimmstrase 27, 67655 Kaiserslautern, Germany.
Fax: (+49 631) 891126;
e-mail: geobra@folz.de


Mobil Corporation (the multinational oil company) made the decision to donate US$500 000 in support of tree planting projects because they have a major impact on reducing greenhouse gases. It also recognized that trees provide other important benefits such as restoring and maintaining habitat for threatened and endangered species, cleaning the air and water, beautifying the land and improving recreation. (Source: Climate News, 8 January 1998.)

Did you know that planting and growing 150 000 ha of forest will absorb 3 million tonnes of CO
2 per year from the atmosphere, equivalent to the emissions from a 600 MW coal-fired power station?

Source: AIJ report of the IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme, UK.)

Royal Dutch/Shell Group, the world’s largest oil company, has decided to make renewable energy its fifth "core" business activity and has established Shell International Renewables (SIR) to invest in solar, bioenergy and sustainable forestry projects. Mr van Oorsouw, Head of Biomass and Wind at SIR, reported that US$500 million have been earmarked for investment in the near future. In the biomass area, SIR’s activities will include the establishment of new plantations of fast-growing trees, such as eucalyptus, which can fuel power plants in rural areas of the developing world (large forestry plantations are now under development in Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay and the Congo). He also said that (for SIR) wood energy is rapidly becoming a cost-effective alternative; for this reason, pilot plants for the development of decentralized wood-based power are now being initiated. Shell has set a target to have such power plants generating a total of 250 MW installed by 2005, and company executives also say that there are commercial prospects for large-scale power generation from biomass. Shell’s new venture will be the single largest investment in renewable energy resources to date. (Source: Travel report by Miguel Trossero, February 1998.)


CREST is developing a project, with the support of the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA), to document and post on the Internet case studies and positive results of state and local government activities that have resulted in reducing or preventing greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency and/or renewable energy technologies, better municipal planning and progressive sustainable energy and resource practices.

The general sectors on which the project is focusing are: Buildings/residential, Transportation, Industrial facilities, Municipal and public utilities and Agriculture. The results that are being sought include energy savings, cost savings, greenhouse gas savings and creation of jobs.

CREST would appreciate any relevant submissions of case studies, contacts, Web sites, other discussion groups or mailing lists or reports that might be useful in fulfilling this project. [See under Web Sites for more information on the various Internet addresses of CREST.]

Please send any hard-copy documents or electronic files to: Mr Jon Guth, Project Manager, CREST, 1200 18th Street, NW, Suite 900, Washington,
DC 20036, USA.
Fax: (+1 202) 887 0497;
e-mail: jsg@crest.org


The International Energy Agency (IEA) is an autonomous body which was established in 1974 within the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to implement an international energy programme. It carries out a comprehensive programme of energy cooperation among its member countries.

The basic aims of IEA include:

IEA Bioenergy is the short name for the international bioenergy collaboration within IEA. The work of IEA Bioenergy is structured in a number of Tasks, which have well-defined objectives, budgets and time frames. Four Tasks were covered during the period 1995-1997.

Bioenergy is defined as material which is directly or indirectly produced by photosynthesis and which is utilized, among other uses, as a feedstock in the manufacture of fuels and substitutes for petrochemical and other energy-intensive products. Organic waste from forestry and agriculture and municipal solid waste are also included in the common studies, as well as broader systems studies on techno-economical aspects and greenhouse gas balances of whole bioenergy systems.

Task XV – Greenhouse gas balances of bioenergy systems

The goal of Task XV was to analyse all processes involved in the use of bioenergy systems on a full fuel-cycle basis with the aim of establishing overall greenhouse gas (GHG) balances. The basis of the analysis of bioenergy systems is a comparison with conventional or traditional fossil fuels and other energy systems as a reference. Besides the scientific value of the results of this project, its recommendations are useful for decision-makers in order to gain a maximum of net GHG emission reduction from bioenergy projects.

The other three Tasks were: Task XII – Biomass production, harvesting and supply; Task XIII – Biomass utilization; and Task XIV – Energy recovery from municipal solid waste. (Source: IEA Bioenergy, Annual Report 1996.)

For more information, please contact: Mr Josef Spitzer, Operating Agency Task XV, Joanneum Research, Elisabethstrasse 11, A-8010 Graz, Austria.
Fax: (+43 316) 876320;
e-mail: josef.spitzer@joanneum.ac.at
Editor, IEA Bioenergy Newsletter, Forestry Department, University of Aberdeen, 581 King Street, Aberdeen AB24 5UA, UK.
Fax: (+44 1224) 272685;
e-mail: wsrg@abdn.ac.uk;


Electric utility officials in droves are rediscovering wood as an important fuel source. But rising demand is outstripping supplies from industrial and sawmill waste. However, the utilities are not going to cut existing forests; instead, many are planning to grow their own. The strategy is to cover millions of acres around the country with fast-growing hybrids of various species known collectively as "super trees". These so-called "super trees" are any of a new selection of hybridized fast-growing alders, willows and poplars. "Hybrid vigour" is a term used to describe the fact that such cross-breeds possess much more rapid growth than their parents. Current selections are very hardy, with some producing growth up to 5 m per year as far north as Canada.

According to the manager of the United States Department of Energy’s burgeoning wood-research effort, such specially developed trees may be destined to capture as much as 15 percent of the United States’ US$60 billion electric-power fuel market within 20 years. The current market for wood is 1 percent, yet it is quietly moving ahead of costly solar panels and wind turbines as the leading renewable resource that can be stockpiled. "It’s there when the sun doesn’t shine and wind isn’t blowing." (Source: Electric utilities study an old, new source of fuel: firewood – fast-growing "super trees" burn clean, may outstrip solar panel, windmills; from sprig to 15 feet in a year, by Robert Johnson. Wall Street Journal, LLXV[35]. http://www.traverse.com/earthkeepers/woodfuel.html)


The Aracruz commitment to ensure the lowest environmental impact of its activities is leading to new, productive uses for residues from its pulp-making operations. One of the company’s initiatives is a study, together with the Centre for the Development of Coffee Technology (CETCAF) in the State of Espirito Santo (Brazil), to determine the best uses of residues for coffee growers in that state. The three types of residues useful in soil chemistry correction and fertilization that are being studied by CETCAF for coffee plantation use are: ash (a fine residue resulting from burning eucalyptus tree bark in the pulp mill’s biomass boilers); dregs (solid wastes deriving from the industrial liquor cooking process); and lime mud (a waste product removed from the mill’s lime furnaces after an operating problem has shut them down). These products will be cheaper than lime which is currently being used. Dreg residue technology is being successfully used by farmers in the south of the country on broccoli and peach crops, and the need for pesticides has declined. Since the quality and quantity of the crops using dregs are superior to those that do not, the idea is to adapt the practice to coffee farming.

Another initiative is a partnership with the Espirito Santo Federal University to adapt the use of dregs for use by the building industry. The concept is to produce high-resistance, low-cost bricks using the residue as the principal raw material. (Source: Aracruz News, No. 9, October 1997.)

Aracruz is the largest pulp and paper company in Brazil. For more information, please contact:


Clean energy for the planet

Tiny, rugged power plants, known as "microturbine-generators" or, simply, microturbines, ranging in size from 30 kW to 200 kW, are to be commercialized in the United States and elsewhere. They will soon cost less than comparable diesel engines. This could be very good news for the conversion of biomass to electricity. Key modifications to the microturbines will adapt them to run on low-pressure biomass gas with a heat content well below 1 000 kcal/m3.

Small biomass gasifiers have previously been coupled to diesel engines to make electricity. There are several difficulties with using diesel engines on such low-energy gas: the output of the engine drops, maintenance costs increase and, in most instances, the engine must be run in a dual-fuel mode, so that the biomass gas merely displaces some of the diesel fuel but does not eliminate its use.

The modified microturbine will eliminate most of the problems faced by diesels. It will run solely on biomass gas with no loss of output. The modification eliminates the fuel gas compressor, one of the highest maintenance components in the plant. The resulting plant will have only one moving part, use no lubricating oil and will be very simple to maintain. It will also have a higher tolerance for tar and particulates.

A prototype project, running a modified microturbine on biomass gas, is expected to be operational in California by late 1998. Following the prototype, several demonstration projects are planned, using thermal gasifiers, animal manure digesters and even landfill gas. The plants will be able to utilize biomass from sources previously considered to be too small or too weak for recovery. The project is being developed by Reflective Energies of California, together with other companies, universities and research institutes in the United States. (Contributed by: Mr Edan Prabhu, Reflective Energies.)

For more information, please contact Mr E. Prabhu, Reflective Energies, 22922 Tiagua, Mission Viejo, California, USA 92692-1433.
Fax: (+1 714) 380 8407;
e-mail: edanprabhu@msn.com


EnVoc is the latest edition of the INFOTERRA Thesaurus of Environmental Terms. EnVoc (Environmental Vocabulary) has been revised to reflect emerging environmental concerns and new technologies, especially in the field of environmental information. Originally produced 20 years ago as the INFOTERRA Thesaurus of Environmental Terms, this product has evolved into an important reference tool for both users and providers of environmental information. As testimony to the product’s widespread appeal, the thesaurus has been renamed EnVoc – Multilingual Thesaurus of Environmental Terms, reflecting its established niche as a leading environmental vocabulary with an international client base.

For more information on EnVoc or other INFOTERRA products and services, please contact: UNEP Thesaurus Team, Division of Environmental Information and Assessment, United Nations Environment Programme,
PO Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya.
Fax: (+254 2) 624269;
e-mail: infotinf@unep.org;


The global bioenergy potential for the future is estimated using a multiregional global land use and energy model (GLUE-11). The model consists of two sectors (a food and a forest sector) and describes land use competition among various uses for biomass applications such as paper, timber, food, feed and energy. The model covers a wide range of biomass flow including food chains from feed to meat, paper recycling and discharge of biomass residues. The model calculates the bioenergy potential from 1961 to 1990 based on past records and from 1990 to 2100 based on future biomass supply and demand scenarios.

Through a set of simulations, the following results were obtained. i) There will be a potential of energy crop production from surplus arable land in North America, Western Europe, Oceania, Latin America and the former USSR and Eastern Europe. However, the potential of energy will be strongly affected by food demand parameters in the future, such as animal food demand per caput. ii) Ultimate energy potential of biomass residues will increase globally from 81 EJ to 270 EJ per annum in 2100 and will be linked to food demand. In North America, the centrally planned Asian countries, Latin America and South Asia, which will be the major consumers or exporters of biomass, wood harvesting residues, sawmill residues, wood scrap, cereal harvesting residues and animal dung will be the biomass residues with considerable energy potential. (Contributed by: Mr Hiromi Yamamoto. Source: Bioenergy in global energy systems in the future – considering land use competitions and energy resource constraints. Proceedings of the International Association for Energy Economics [IAEE] 24th Annual International Conference, 1998.)

For more information, please contact: Mr Hiromi Yamamoto, Socioeconomic Research Center, Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry,
1-6-1 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8216, Japan.
Fax: (+81 3) 3287 2805;
e-mail: yamamoth@criepi.denken.or.jp


Unlike conventional energy sources, wood fuel is not commercialized by large multinational or national companies. A multiplicity of institutions, professionals and voluntary participants are involved. This leads to the emergence of an entrepreneurial, or branch, culture with individuals identifying with projects and building up project experience.

Thanks to the European Union, innovative technologies are being developed and theme networks are being set up. As well as sharing experiences, their aim is to agree best practice methods and to have credible technical and economic references on hand. Their credibility depends on the models developed being applied effectively at the national and regional levels, instead of existing only as limited and local successes.

In several countries, professional technical centres have created special departments which support manufacturers in the design of their products. Other countries or regions have set up agencies or networks offering advice centres for professionals in order to promote improvements among decision-makers and the public. (Source: Wood Fuel Newsletter, No. 2.)

With the support of the European Commission (Directorate General for Energy DG XVII), Wood Fuel Newsletter is published by Biomasse Normandie, in partnership with Adema (France) and in collaboration with ZREU (Germany), ECD (Denmark) and the Styrian Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry (Austria).
For more information, please contact: Biomasse Normandie, 42 avenue du Six Juin, F 14300 Caen, France.
Fax: (+33 2) 31522491;
e-mail: biomnor@acl.com


The Regional Wood Energy Development Programme in Asia (RWEDP) is a long-term project implemented by FAO’s Forestry Department and funded by the Government of the Netherlands. The project started in 1984 and is now in its third phase, 1994-1999. The current phase links 16 countries which are major wood fuel producers and consumers: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam. The share of wood energy in national energy consumption ranges from 20 to 80 percent. In absolute quantities the consumption of wood fuels is still increasing, and this is expected to remain so for several decades to come. The main uses are in the domestic, commercial and industrial sectors. The types of application can be traditional or modern, or any intermediary one.

Although wood fuels are often considered "non-commercial", they are widely traded. This is particularly true in urban areas, where wood fuels are most relevant, and where markets for fuelwood and charcoal are thriving. Many people, in both urban and rural areas, earn their main income from the wood fuel business. This can involve growing, harvesting, processing, trading, transporting or retailing. Despite years of misconceptions, most of the wood fuel is managed sustainably. It has been found that wood energy use is not a general or the main cause of deforestation in Asia.

Three specialist areas are being addressed by RWEDP, i.e. wood energy resource development, wood energy conservation and wood energy data and planning. Further specific aspects regard gender issues which play an important role in wood energy supply, trade and utilization. Common problems in wood energy are with regard to lack of adequate data, institutional weaknesses and limited skills. As a result, national policies with regard to wood energy are generally not yet well articulated, and RWEDP aims to assist in this.

The present phase of RWEDP focuses on strengthening institutional capacities in RWEDP member countries. As a regional programme, RWEDP facilitates and promotes the exchange of relevant experiences in the region. This is implemented by regional workshops, dissemination of information, initiating case studies on innovative subjects and national training courses. Overall, RWEDP builds on available skills in the region rather than experts from outside the region and stimulates the further development and institutionalization of these skills. RWEDP cooperates with forestry and energy departments in member countries, as well as other relevant national departments and organizations. Further cooperation has been developed with various specialized regional institutes and organizations.

RWEDP publishes a Newsletter, Wood Energy News, which is distributed to about 3 200 institutional subscribers. Furthermore, RWEDP publishes field documents and reports on various aspects of wood energy. [Ed. note: Part 1 of a list of RWEDP publications can be found under Publications.] A home page is being established on the Internet (Internet address: www.rwedp.org). (Contributed by: Mr Wim Hulscher, Chief Technical Adviser, RWEDP.)

For more information, please contact: Mr W. Hulscher, c/o RAP, Maliwan Mansion, Phra Atit Road, Bangkok 10200, Thailand.
Fax: (+66 2) 280 0760;
e-mail: RWEDP@field.fao.org


Biomass Users’ Network (BUN)-INDIA is actively engaged in publishing newsletters to create a forum for the exchange of views in the field of biomass energy and has already published four newsletters so far. To make this forum more effective, we need articles from those who are actually engaged in research, technology development or any other issue related to this field. We welcome contributions from such people and sincerely hope to get a good response to our appeal. (Contributed by: V. Gayathri, BUN-INDIA, e-mail: gayathri@cgpl.iisc.ernet.in)


A local group in Hong Kong is compiling a "user-friendly" buyer’s guide/catalogue for purchasing managers (from a variety of industrial and service sectors) to incorporate green criteria into their purchasing decisions. The guide will provide a comprehensive, structured means of selecting items based on the environmental and technical performance data. There will be no charge for the guide. (Source: Bio Bulletin, July 1997.)


The value of women’s labour and time must be taken into consideration. Most fuel collection and cooking is done by women, so a reduction in fuel collection, less exposure to smoke emissions and time saved in cooking will mainly affect women. In some societies, these factors are not considered important and where income is extremely low, with little opportunity for employment, fuel collection by women may seem the preferred alternative to stove purchase. For projects to succeed, problems caused by these attitudes must be addressed. (Extracted from: Routes for commercialization of rural stoves. Boiling Point, No. 39.)

Women are the major users and managers of natural resources such as forests, water and land. They are the first to realize the environmental problems and most directly affected by a degradation in natural resources. But they are rarely recognized as agents in many development projects and extension activities in forestry or agriculture. Although they are de facto resource managers their voice is rarely heard in decision-making bodies. Women cannot benefit from the development process equally with men if they are not direct participants. Therefore, participatory methods should be used to integrate women’s desires and knowledge into the planning process. To achieve sustainability in development, there is need of a culture of participation which embodies a partnership with the state, international organizations, national NGOs, universities and the local people themselves. Such a culture sets the ground for organizing grassroots activities. (Extracted from: It is our turn to talk, by Zeliha Unaldt. A case study on Women in Forestry presented at the Eleventh World Forestry Congress.)


Women play a decisive role in household and national food security. When given the opportunities and resources, women have proved to be active partners in development: efficient, dynamic and open to innovations. When confronted with crises, they have been able to come up with coping survival strategies or to adjust technologies to the ever changing environment. They represent a formidable potential that could help meet the challenges of food security in the twenty-first century.

In order to promote the understanding of women’s crucial contribution to world agriculture and food security, I have chosen "Women feed the world" as the theme for World Food Day 1998.

(Extracted from: From the Director-General. FAO Contact, February 1998.)



ENERGIA News – the newsletter of the Network for Women and Sustainable Energy?

ENERGIA is an international network on women and sustainable energy, founded in 1995 by a group of women involved in gender and energy work in developing countries. ENERGIA’s objective is to "engender" energy and empower women, through the promotion of information exchange, training, research, advocacy and action aimed at strengthening the role of women in sustainable energy development. ENERGIA’s approach (since it is a loose network rather than a formal institution) is to seek to identify needed activities and actions through its membership, and then to encourage, and if possible to assist, members and their institutions to undertake decentralized initiatives. ENERGIA News is the principle vehicle for this approach.

The newsletter is produced jointly by Energy, Environment and Development (EED, Wipperfürth, Germany), the Technology and Development Group (TDG, Enschede, the Netherlands) and TOOLConsult (Amsterdam, the Netherlands), the coordinator.

For more information, please contact: ENERGIA News Secretariat, c/o TOOLConsult, Sarphatistraat 650,
1018 AV Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Tel.: (+31 20) 4246609;
fax: (+31 20) 4211202;
e-mail: toolconsult@tool.nl

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