Asian institute of technology energy program

The Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) was established in 1959 as an autonomous postgraduate international institute to help meet the growing need for advanced engineering education in Asia. The Energy Program, established in 1979, has so far produced more than 500 graduates.

The fields of study covered include Energy Economics and Planning (EEP), Energy Technology (ET) and Electric Power Systems Management (EPSM).

The master's degree programme starts in January each year; the deadline for application is 1 May for those seeking financial assistance and 15 October for those not requiring AIT financial support. In addition, a programme funded by the European Union can offer scholarships to European applicants for master's degree programmes.

For more information, please contact: Coordinator, Energy Program, Asian Institute of Technology, PO Box 4, Klong Luang, Pathumthani 12120, Thailand.
Fax: (+66) 2 524 5439;
e-mail: epcoord@ait.ac.th;

Wood is a more sustainable energy source than fossil fuels.

David South, Auburn University, Australia.

Battle in the greenhouse

Can a small NGO match a huge multinational? Yes, in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions a small local NGO can achieve as much as a huge multinational energy company. Take the following example.

In the Lao People's Democratic Republic, woodfuel is widely used for cooking. However, most households use open fires because proper stoves are still lacking. A local NGO, the Participatory Development Training Center (PADEC), is now introducing improved wood and charcoal stoves at a rate of 15 000 units a year. The improved stove saves at least 30 percent of the woodfuel compared with an open fire. In addition to the advantages for the users, fuel saving implies reduced emission of greenhouse gases for the planet earth.

As a comparison, consider the case of solar energy. Photovoltaics is being promoted worldwide as an alternative to fossil fuels. In Europe, a new production facility for solar panels is being established by one of the world's biggest oil companies. The production capacity will be 10 MW per year, which is considered large. The use of solar energy implies avoiding emission of greenhouse gases, which is widely advertised and recognized.

To make a quick estimate comparing the credit of the two greenhouse players:

An open fire for cooking has a power of about 3 kW. Saving one third of the fuel means saving 1 kW. Hence, 15 000 stoves save 15 000 kW, which is 15 MW. The open fires are normally kept live for about eight hours a day, which means the "plant factor" of this facility is 1/3. Therefore, the actual saving in terms of greenhouse gas emissions is equivalent to 1/3 times 15 MW, which is 5 MW. As regards the solar panels, when they are indeed used to substitute for electricity from fossil fuels, their "plant factor" is at the most 1/2. That means the saving of greenhouse gases is equivalent to 1/2 times 10 MW, which is also 5 MW.

The quick estimate shows that both the small NGO and the big multinational save the equivalent of 5 MW in terms of greenhouse gas emission. Anyone can try to make more accurate estimates, specify which greenhouse gases are actually being saved or substituted, point to the different side benefits, or evaluate the needs of the beneficiaries, etc. for the two cases. But the point here is that the tiny NGO plays in the same league as the huge multinational!

The choice is not wood or solar. The choice is both. The use of woodfuel is still growing on a sustainable basis. Photovoltaics is growing faster, but with present growth rates it will take another 30 years before it matches wood in terms of energy quantity in the world. For the time being, cooking with solar electricity is one thousand times more expensive than with wood.

There are about 3 billion woodfuel users in the world. Not even half of them have proper stoves. They are generally poor. Assisting them means applying cost-effective greenhouse measures at the same time. (Contributed by: Mr W.S. Hulscher, RWEDP, Bangkok, Thailand.)


The Jatropha System: an integrated approach to supply energy and create income for rural development

Central hypothesis. The Jatropha System creates a positive reciprocity between energy production and environment/food production, i. e. the more energy Jatropha hedges produce, the more food crops are protected from animals and erosion. Additional income is also created, mainly for women.

In many tropical and subtropical countries, the plant Jatropha curcas is grown as a living fence to protect gardens and fields against animals because it is not eaten by them. But the economic potential of this plant is not known.

Exploiting this plant, the Jatropha System promotes four main aspects of development which combine to help assure a sustainable way of life for village farmers:

· Renewable energy

· Erosion control and soil improvement

· Promotion of women

· Rural income generation

Renewable energy. In the rural areas in Mali, Lister-type engines are used to drive grain mills and water pumps. These inexpensive precombustion chamber diesel engines of Indian origin require only small adaptation to be able to run on pure Jatropha oil, thus eliminating the need for petrol entirely. The lubrication oil may also be substituted by Jatropha oil.

Erosion control. Jatropha "living fences" in Mali not only control unwanted animal access to the fields and gardens, but also reduce wind erosion and, if planted parallel to slopes to fix small earth or stone dams, help control water erosion. The plant's roots grow close to the ground surface, anchoring the soil like miniature dykes. These dykes effectively slow surface runoff during intensive downpours.

Promotion of women. Traditionally, rural women used Jatropha curcas for local medicine and for soap production. The traditional soap-making process is very labour-intensive, producing small amounts of relatively poor-quality soap. When Jatropha oil is used, either alone or in combination with other local plant oils, such as shea butter, larger amounts of a more refined soap are produced. The women can easily sell this soap in local markets and nearby towns, increasing their possibilities of earning income with local resources. Details of the economy of soap production with the means of the Bielenberg hand press are shown in the Jatropha Internet site (http://jatropha.org).

Rural income generation. By promoting the integrated utilization of the Jatropha plant, the Jatropha System can provide direct financial benefits to the rural economy. An average village with 15 km of Jatropha hedges may harvest 12 tonnes of seeds. These may generate US$1 800 of cash income when the oil is extracted and the product's press-cake, oil and sediment are sold.

An entrepreneur who buys the seeds for soap production and hires people for the production can earn US$1 430, while the village receives US$2 200 for seeds and labour.

If these figures are extrapolated to Jatropha plantations, a profit in the range of cotton farming is within reach. Because of its economic value, rural people are planting new Jatropha hedges on a large scale. (Contributed by: Mr Reinhard K. Henning.)

For more information, please contact: Mr Reinhard K. Henning, Baganí GbR, Rothkreuz 11, D-88138 Weissensberg, Germany.
Fax: (+49) 8389 984 128;
e-mail: Reinhard@Henning.com;
http://Reinhard.Henning.com or

Cars fill up on coconut oil

Imagine going to fill up your car with petrol and seeing that the tank is being filled with coconut oil. This is what could happen in the future thanks to Mikaele Dreu, a student at Bolton University, United Kingdom, who has managed to develop a method that transforms coconut oil into engine fuel. And all this without the large amount of toxic substances that are produced with the present extraction method. "At the moment," says Dreu, who is a native of Fiji, "coconut oil can be used with diesel engines, but with improved technology it will also be possible to use it with petrol engines. In addition, coconut oil costs less than other propellants." The drawback is that it can only be used in the tropics: coconut oil solidifies at 15°C and therefore cannot be used in colder climates. (Source: La Repubblica.)

Burning of biomass (and carbonizing sawdust)

Myriad industries produce natural waste material which is of little economic value in its raw state. Compacting the biowaste into small burnable logs (SunLogs) adds value to a useful resource. Cree Industries is setting up manufacturing facilities on Indian Reservation land in Canada to produce small portable "compaction" machines, which compact (any dry) biowaste, such as sawdust, rice husks, hemp hurds, olive pits, straw, charcoal dust and nut shells, into compressed logs 11 cm in diameter, at 1 tonne/m3. These logs are ideal for burning and should go a long way towards helping people everywhere burn their biowaste instead of cutting down trees. There is a substantial amount of this biowaste available for use as a fuel source. (Based on: correspondence with Mr John Olsen.)

For more information, please contact: Mr John Olsen, President, Cree Industries, 200-100 Park Royal South, West Vancouver, British Columbia V7T 1A2, Canada.
Fax: (+1) 604 533 4950;
e-mail: cree@dowco.com

Charcoal production

A request was made on the "Stoves" network e-mail list for information on equipment capable of producing approximately 5 tonnes of charcoal per day. The following reply was received.

Our company (Enecon Pty Ltd) has the licence to charcoal technology developed by CSIRO (which is the major government research organization in Australia). This technology is aimed at large-scale production of charcoal via fluidized beds. The intention is twofold. First, to make charcoal for cooking or metallurgical use and, second, to make charcoal as a feedstock for CSIRO-designed equipment to manufacture activated carbon.

CSIRO technology aims at maximizing capture of the 60 percent of energy that is normally lost during charcoal manufacture. Volatiles and controlled amounts of fixed carbon are combusted and heating coils are used to recover energy, for example, via hot oil or as steam for process use or running a turbine. To our knowledge, this is the most energy-efficient, large-scale charcoal technology available.

CSIRO has developed this technology over several years and has successfully built and operated two pilot-scale plants. Enecon and CSIRO are now engaged in two separate studies looking at large-scale charcoal production in Australia. This will include costing of full-scale plants capable of between 1 500 and 12 000 tonnes of charcoal per year.

Enecon is also trying to "track down" simpler, smaller charcoal equipment that is mobile and can therefore be moved into and around forests to avoid high wood transport costs. (Source: e-mail from Colin Stucley, "Stoves" network e-mail list: stoves@crest.org)

For more information, please contact:
Mr Colin Stucley, Managing Director, Enecon Pty Ltd, 210 Canterbury Rd, Canterbury, Victoria 3126, Australia.
Fax: (+61) 3 9888 6744;
e-mail: enecon@ozemail.com.au

Global fibre supply model

FAO has recently published a Global Fibre Supply Model (GFSM). GFSM is an outlook study depicting industrial fibre supply scenarios based on resource availability and the present political environment. CD-ROMs in English, French and Spanish are available and permit the user to enter his or her own resource data and thus work with the model.

For more information, please contact:
Mr Olman Serrano, Chief, Wood and Non-Wood Products Utilization Branch, Forest Products Division, Forestry Department, FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.
Fax: (+39) 06 52255618;
e-mail: olman.serrano@fao.org

Leap: international version

A new version of the Long-range Energy Alternatives Planning model (LEAP) is now available which allows for translation of the model into any language.

To enhance the capabilities in wood energy planning, the FAO Regional Wood Energy Development Programme in Asia (RWEDP) organizes several training activities for its member countries, such as national training workshops and case studies. RWEDP has adopted LEAP as a tool that can be used for wood energy planning,

LEAP is a general planning model; however, it is also appropriate for wood energy planning because it includes a biomass module that can be used to assess wood and other biomass resources. It covers the whole energy flow from resources through transformation to consumption and has a flexible data structure that allows for analysis even when limited data are available. Furthermore, it is user-friendly and can be run on a simple PC.

Case studies on wood energy planning are now being conducted, jointly by national energy and forestry agencies, in several countries (Cambodia, China, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Viet Nam). These case studies serve as on-the-job training on wood energy planning and aim to identify particular problems and aspects in each of the countries. LEAP is being used as a framework and tool for data analysis and scenario development. At the beginning of each case study, RWEDP organized an intensive training course on the use of LEAP for wood energy planning for a small group of people who work on the case study.

RWEDP noticed that some participants had difficulty working with LEAP because of their limited knowledge of English, since LEAP uses English as the working language. Therefore, RWEDP supported the development of a new version of LEAP that can be translated and used in any other language. This new version is now available on the Web site of the developers of LEAP, the Stockholm Environment Institute in Boston (www.seib.org/leap). It is accompanied by a translation utility needed to translate the menus and guidelines for translating help files. After installing both the new version of LEAP and the translation utility, the user can translate the menu items. The translation can then be copied to other computers. A partial translation into Chinese is already available. Users are encouraged to share their translations with other users. (Contributed by: Mr Wim Hulscher, Chief Technical Adviser, RWEDP, Bangkok, Thailand.)

[Please see Forest Energy Forum No. 1 for more information on LEAP.]

Le charbon de bois - toujours d'actualité pour le traitement des eaux

Le charbon de bois, produit principal de la pyrolyse du bois, parallèlement à ses utilisations énergétiques (domestiques partout dans le monde ou industrielles comme dans le secteur sidérurgique brésilien) trouve encore aujourd'hui des applications dans le domaine environnemental comme agent de dépollution. Les corps poreux en général absorbent les gaz, certains corps dissous et les solvants. Le charbon de bois jouit de cette propriété au plus haut degré.

La capacité d'adsorption du charbon de bois est connue depuis fort longtemps et a été mise à profit dans des nombreux domaines, notamment pour l'épuration des eaux (filtres familiaux, assainissement de puits) out des gaz (masques). Cette capacité est déterminée par la surface de sites réceptifs sur les parois des vaisseaux du bois carbonisé. En technique de carbonisation traditionnelle, la surface et l'accessibilité de ces sites sont réduits par de nombreuses impuretés. On a donc recherché les moyens «d'activer» les charbons pour augmenter leur capacité d'adsorption.

La fabrication de charbon actif présente d'assez grandes difficultés si l'on veut obtenir des produits très efficaces et de qualité constante.

Disposant dans le monde d'une grande diversité de produits et sous-produits agricoles et forestiers, on cherche à obtenir le meilleur charbon par le choix de la matière première et l'optimisation des conditions de la pyrolyse.

Les techniques actuelles permettent d'espérer des surfaces spécifiques de l'ordre de 300 à 400 m2 par gramme de charbon (compte tenu du fait qu'un charbon actif industriel se situe généralement aux environs de 900 m2/g). Le CIRAD-Forêt s'emploie actuellement à la mise au point de traitements simples et relativement peu onéreux pour obtenir des charbons actifs compétitifs, produits localement.

Une nouvelle filière pourrait ainsi se développer dans de nombreux pays confrontés aux périls modernes de la pollution des eaux par les industries et au recyclage des eaux urbaines résiduaires. (Source: Le Flamboyant no 42, juin 1997.)

Pour plus de détails, veuillez contacter: le Laboratoire Energie-Environnment du CIRAD-Forêt, Maison de la Technologie, BP 5035, 34032 Montpellier cedex 1, France.

Palm sugar

The palm sugar industry provides an income for a large number of households in Southeast Asia. For Cambodia, the dry zone of Myanmar and southern Thailand, the households are estimated at 30 000, 15 000 and 5 000, respectively, indicating the importance of this industry for the region. The energy costs form an important part of total production costs (up to 76 percent) and the use of more efficient palm sugar stoves will decrease these costs, thereby having a positive influence on the economic situation of those households.

The Regional Wood Energy Development Programme (RWEDP), with support from the Prince of Songkhla University (PSU) in Hat Yai, southern Thailand, organized a palm sugar study tour in this area from 22 to 26 February 1999. This study tour was attended by participants from various organizations active in this field in Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand. There were representatives from the Cambodia Fuelwood Saving Project (CFSP), the Participatory Natural Resource Management Project of Cambodia and the FAO/UNDP Dry Zone Micro-Income Project of Myanmar. All the participants were active in the palm sugar industry in their home country, making it a good base for extensive discussions and exchange of information.

Since 1984, the Department of Agricultural Development of PSU has undertaken research within the palm sugar industry in southern Thailand. In 1990, this was followed up by a palm sugar stove programme in which more than 50 technicians were trained and an estimated 70 percent of the disseminated improved palm sugar stoves were believed to be adopted. Difficulties which were encountered during this programme were of a personal (adoption of new technology, farmer-technician relationship) as well as of a technical nature (material used for construction of the stove). The programme provided for a small subsidy in the form of the material costs for the chimney and a number of bricks. This programme was discussed with the participants of the study tour. One point of discussion was whether, and to what extent, subsidies should be included in improved stove programmes. The stove programme supported by CFSP only provides the transport costs of the materials necessary for building the stove, while the stove programme in Myanmar mainly invests in promotional activities related to improved stoves. It would appear that this aspect of a stove programme is area-specific.

Field visits were undertaken to a number of palm sugar businesses in southern Thailand, giving the participants a chance to compare the situation of the palm sugar industry in that area with their local situation. The participants from Cambodia noticed a number of similarities with respect to the structure of the palm sugar stoves, while the main difference encountered by the participant from Myanmar was the number of pans of the stove, which tends to be three in Myanmar compared with one or two in Cambodia and Thailand. This scale of production is mainly influenced by the number of palm trees that can be utilized by the farmer for the production of palm sugar. The energy costs, being the main production costs, also tend to differ significantly in the different countries. The field visits were complemented with practical work at the training centre in the same area, where an improved palm sugar stove was constructed by the participants. (Contributed by: Mr Bert van der Plas, RWEDP, Bangkok, Thailand.)

For more information, please contact: Mr Bert van der Plas, APO Information Systems, RWEDP, c/o RAP, Maliwan Mansion, Phra Atit Road, Bangkok 10200, Thailand.
Fax: (+66) 2 280 0760;
e-mail: RWEDP@fao.org


Charcoal-making stoves

The following request for information was made on the "Stoves" network

e-mail list.

There is an opportunity to help a group of 19 sophomore engineering students in a design class at Colorado School of Mines, working under "stoves" member Professor Bob Knecht. Their topic is limited to charcoal-making stoves with the aim of developing geometries that will improve stove stability (safety) and make final quenching easier and safer (after pyrolysis is complete).

Any suggestions for new ideas will be passed on. Does anyone have an interest in a particular application (for a restaurant, oven, bakery, etc.)? Or a particular food (rice, potatoes, etc.)? Or a particular combination of power and energy requirements (1 kW maximum [or minimum]? 5 kWh maximum?, etc.)? The geometries should be small enough for testing easily, but should still have a practical application.

I am suggesting some groups might try a single "fuel can" inside a more rigid (safer) "tall combustion cylinder" that extends all the way to the ground - but I am not sure this will give good flame holding. Has anyone tried this geometry yet?

This is a great chance to pass on any "lessons learned" on the charcoal-making stove topic. Some that come to mind are:

· using dry fuel;

· using "right" diameter fuel - neither

too small nor too large;

· tight packing of the fuel;

· tight primary air control;

· need to avoid wind influence.

For more information, please contact: Dr Ronal W. Larson, 21547 Mountsfield Dr., Golden, CO 80401, USA.
Fax: (+1) 303 526 9629;
e-mail: larcon@sni.net

Estufas mejoradas

La difusión y adopción de estufas mejoradas suele ser difícil por varias causas:

a) los usuarios no tienen (o no perciben) la necesidad de ahorrar leña;

b) el diseño de la estufa no se acomoda a las particularidades locales (tamaño y forma de las panelas, intensidad de liberación de calor, tamaño y forma de la leña disponible);

c) deterioro más o menos rápido de algunos elementos constructivos (chimeneas, reguladores de tiro, bocas de fuego y hornallas); y

d) falta de capacitación del usuario real en su uso y mantenimiento.

Las causas más frecuentes son la a) y b). Para evitar fracasos en la difusión y adopción es conveniente investigar primero si los usuarios necesitan ahorrar leña y si lo saben. Luego conviene ensayar si el ahorro de leña logrado en condiciones reales de operación es suficiente incentivo para compensar el costo adicional de construcción y mantenimiento del fogón mejorado, la preparación de la leña, y la pérdida de algunas ventajas del fogón tradicional (humos como repelente de insectos, iluminación en el caso de fuegos abiertos, etc.). O si existen otras ventajas (más limpieza, menos accidentes, cocina más bonita, etc.) que compensen los mayores costos y esfuerzos asociados al fogón mejorado.

Siguen citas de dos textos que resumen una reciente revisión de varios programas de difusión de estufas mejoradas en Honduras.

Estudio sobre programas de fogones mejorados en Honduras. La evaluación de los programas de fogones mejorados, realizada por una ONG local con apoyo metodológico del proyecto, ha recolectado una importante información sobre el desempeño de cinco programas, concluyendo que han tenido un escaso impacto sobre el nivel del consumo de leña entre los beneficiarios y una cobertura muy reducida. No hay evidencias de un proceso de difusión espontánea o de apropiación efectiva de las tecnologías promovidas, aunque la diversidad de modelos encontrados y el hecho de que la mayoría de los tipos tradicionales son de construcción cerrada sugieren que ya existe un grado importante de mejoramiento en los fogones tradicionales.

Llama la atención el costo relativamente alto de los programas, que oscilan alrededor de los 200 $EE.UU. por cada estufa construida, aunque el costo de los materiales no suele exceder los 30 $EE.UU. Esto parece deberse a lo altos costos de administración y asistencia técnica y al pequeño número de fogones construidos por cada uno.

El estudio recomendó reorientar estos programas hacia la población urbana, donde la leña es adquirida por compra, y en especial donde se la utiliza para fines comerciales, prestando particular atención a la motivación y capacitación de los usuarios en la construcción, mantenimiento y operación de los fogones.

El impacto de los programas de fogones mejorados sobre el consumo de leña. En cuanto al impacto de los programas sobre el consumo de leña, no se pudo evidenciar que los modelos introducidos induzcan a un ahorro de combustible. Hay que enfatizar que muchos de los proyectos de promoción de los fogones han trabajado el tema como parte de componentes de mejoramiento de las condiciones ambientales del hogar campesino, sin que el ahorro de leña haya sido planteado como un objetivo primordial. Respecto del ahorro de leña se puede evidenciar que para conseguir niveles de ahorro de leña significativos, se deben combinar tres factores:

· un buen diseño y una buena realización técnica de artefacto;

· una buena aceptación (apropiación) del modelo y del programa de promoción por parte de las usuarias; y

· la realización de cambios en las prácticas de cocina y en la actitud frente al recurso leña. (Fuente: Enrique Riegelhaupt, Red Internet en Bioenergía: bioenergia@sdnnic.org.ni)

Shell international renewables

In October 1997, the Shell Group launched Shell International Renewables (SIR) as a fifth core business alongside its existing Exploration and Production, Gas & Coal, Chemicals and Oil Products businesses. The Shell Group, which believes that renewable energy could contribute as much as half of the world's total energy demand by 2050, intends to invest up to US$500 million in a global renewable energy business over the next five years. SIR will concentrate initially on developing commercial energy opportunities in biomass and solar.

The world population is expected to double by the year 2100. Therefore, the annual demand for wood for energy, and other uses, will increase and could double (to more than 7 billion m3 per year).

To provide plantation wood for people in the future, support the planting of trees on pastureland.

Setting a goal of converting 8 million ha of pastureland per year for the next 55 years would increase tree plantations to about 5 percent of the world's land base.

Source: www.zpg.org/

The biomass business will use the Shell Group's forestry experience to produce woodfuels as well as advanced technologies to convert biomass into electricity and heat. A number of biomass energy projects are now being developed in various countries, focusing on developing power plants up to 100 MW that use biomass and energy crops as fuel.

The company has been in solar cell (photovoltaics) production for more than 20 years, with manufacturing units in the Netherlands, Japan and (shortly) Germany. The business aim of Shell Solar is to develop commercial opportunities in grid supply, rural electrification, autonomous systems and consumer products.

Opportunities in other renewable energies, such as wind, are also being pursued.

For more information, please contact: Ms Judy Everett (SIR Corporate PA), Shell Centre, London SE1 7NA, UK.
Fax: (+44) 171 934 5252;
e-mail: Judy.M.Everett@SI.shell.com;

Shell and biomass

Shell companies will only obtain the biomass feedstock from sustainably grown sources, that is, where the harvested biomass is continuously replaced by new biomass in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. These sources may be from dedicated plantations or as residues of harvesting and processing operations. Shell will not use biomass derived from native forests. Conversion efficiencies can be increased if the biomass is first gasified and then (depending on the process) the gas or bio-oil is used to fuel a gas turbine equipped with waste heat recovery. The challenge is to ensure that the equipment can produce electricity and heat reliably and in a cost-effective manner. Trials are already in progress in Uruguay and Chile and there is close collaboration between Shell and various international experts and institutions. Shell also has its own forest research centre at East Malling in the United Kingdom. In parallel, state-of-the-art technologies to convert biomass more efficiently into electricity and heat are also being identified, tested and further developed.

Over the last 18 years, Shell has developed experience in growing trees for pulpwood and sawn timber and its current area of plantations is 129 000 ha. Shell Forestry is among the world leaders in tree improvement and large-scale tree production. (Source: Thomas B. Reed, "Stoves" network
e-mail list.)

For more information, please contact: Mr Thomas B. Reed, Biomass Energy Foundation, 1810 Smith Rd, Golden,
CO 80401, USA.
Fax: (+1) 303 278 0560;
e-mail: reedtb@compuserve.com

Regional wood energy development programme in asia (rwedp)

RWEDP is a long-term programme implemented by FAO and funded by the Netherlands Government. The present phase of the programme links 16 countries in Asia, all of which are major wood energy users. In fact, consumption of woodfuels is still increasing in Asia, as it is elsewhere in the world. In industrialized countries this trend is mainly the result of deliberate government policies, whereas in Asia the trend is largely an autonomous one. In most parts of Asia, wood energy is used on a sustainable basis. The applications are still mainly traditional, although increasingly improved technologies are spreading, as are modern applications.

Wood energy in Asia still faces various problems, partly owing to a general lack of adequate technologies in domestic applications as well as in the institutional, commercial and industrial sectors. Other problems are associated with optimizing the production and trade of woodfuel resources because, in the forestry sector, woodfuel is generally considered to be a by-product, whereas in the agricultural sector it is not considered a product at all (at least not in agricultural statistics). This is notwithstanding the fact that the annual economic value of woodfuels in RWEDP member countries is equivalent to some US$30 billion. However, because most "stakeholders" are rural and the urban poor, no concentrated cash flows are associated with woodfuels. A general problematic aspect of wood energy is the weakness of data, which complicates planning and policy-making.

In the last six months, RWEDP has focused on the implementation of a variety of national activities, ranging from case studies and training in wood energy data collection and planning to courses in woodfuel resource management, reviewing woodfuel markets and trade, hands-on training of trainers for introducing improved cooking stoves, translating manuals into local languages and analysing the important gender aspects of wood energy.

In these activities, RWEDP collaborates with government departments in its member countries, national institutes, local NGOs and (other) international organizations. It is encouraging to observe the progress made over the years in various aspects of wood energy development. The most tangible examples are in energy conservation. A recent case is from the Lao People's Democratic Republic where a local NGO has successfully introduced 15 000 improved charcoal stoves in one year, after a training programme assisted and sponsored by RWEDP. Another example is from the Red River Delta in Viet Nam, which is a rice-growing area. Government agencies, jointly with the Women's Union and with advice from RWEDP, are now introducing improved stoves for rice straw fuel. Before, the available straw lasted only nine months per year and the farmers had to buy woodfuel or coal for the remaining months. With the improved stoves, the straw meets the household energy needs year round. In addition, the improved stoves provide a much safer and healthier kitchen environment. It is not surprising that the farmers are keen to buy the new stoves. Other, less tangible, examples of progress in wood energy development are improved skills and sound policies with regard to wood energy in member countries. (Contributed by: W.S. Hulscher, RWEDP, Bangkok, Thailand.)

For more information, please contact: Mr Wim Hulscher, Chief Technical Adviser, RWEDP-GCP/RAS/154/NET, c/o RAP, Maliwan Mansion, Phra Atit Road, Bangkok 10200, Thailand.
Fax: (+66) 2 280 0760;
e-mail: RWEDP@fao.org;
[Please see Forest Energy Forum No. 2 for more information on RWEDP.]

Wood energy information system (weis)

Experience in implementation

During the last few months, considerable progress has been made in the preparation and improvement of our Wood Energy Information System (WEIS). Statistical data from more than 100 countries from different regions (OECD, Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa) have been incorporated.

The data were principally extracted from the FAOSTAT database, and those of other organizations and agencies (IEA, ENDA/IEPE, OLADE), as well as from the statistical information institution in each country studied. All agencies contacted collaborated, providing a significant advance in the quality of woodfuel data.

There were many difficulties in organizing WEIS, the most important of which was selecting the adequate format to be adopted for the compilation and presentation of all the data collected. It was realized that the system being used at present by FAOSTAT was not adequate to show the actual dendro-energetic system and to present all of the data available. Other organizations' formats were examined, but none of them fitted.

For this reason, we decided to prepare a new format (in accordance with the diagram on the following page), incorporating the most interesting aspects of previous surveys. However, for this format to function properly, it was necessary to take into consideration the terminology and concept developed by FAO's Unified Wood Energy Terminology (UWET) [presented in Forest Energy Forum No. 3].

For the new format, we defined adequate tables and suitable programmes covering data collection and available information.

The different kinds of statistical data for "woodfuel", "resources", "product" used for data compilation and presentation are called: "fuelwood, "charcoal, "black liquor and other (in FAOSTAT, the names used are "items" or "single commodities").

This information is segregated into production, consumption or final demand, transformation losses (resulting from the transformation of fuelwood into charcoal), import and export, which form the group "woodfuel commodities" (see diagram). In FAOSTAT, they belong to the large group "elements" or "commodity group".

Depending on the origin of the "supply source" of the woodfuel, the following classifications have been made: direct woodfuel, indirect woodfuel and recovered woodfuel which, together with "the end users" and "woodfuel commodities", make up the group "elements".

It is important to note that the terms "woodfuel" or "derived fuel from wood" represent all of the fuelwood derived from forest species, but do not include all the means of obtaining fuel from the forest ecosystem. We therefore use the term "woodfuel" to describe all the fuel types which, although deriving from forests, do not have a lignocellulosic origin, for example, biodiesel.

The end users were classified into the following sectors: "industrial", "commercial" and "residence"; however, one special group was kept for "power and heat energy from woodfuel".

Another difficulty that we found was the diversity of the existing data resulting from the different reporting systems within each country. We therefore adopted one data series for each country which best reflected the existing dendro-energetic situation.

These data are shown under the generic title "Best estimates", which covers data obtained from our regional Wood Energy Today for Tomorrow (WETT) studies. The data were properly verified and examined for every country and then added where missing.

The data collected belong principally to the period 1980-1997 and are used in WETT in order to facilitate data interpretation.

Another disadvantage encountered was the diversity of the units used in presenting the data from each country and NGO. This led to the preparation of UWET. It was decided to use the Joule as the energy unit for international use and to operate between different items, elements and data sectors (FAOSTAT lists the different units and conversion factors).

To solve these problems and to prepare the regional studies (WETT + WEIS) took more time than was foreseen. To date, we have covered four regions, three of which are available for consultation: OECD, Asia and Africa, while Latin America is at present only available in tables and not as definitive information.

WEIS will soon be available through the Forest Energy Forum home page. In order to consult the Web pages of FAOSTAT and WAICENT, the area, year, item and element to be consulted must be selected. The data can be presented in groups or disaggregated. (Contributed by: Ms Sandra Rivero, Consultant, Wood Energy Programme, Forest Products Division, Forestry Department, FAO.)

Wood energy today for tomorrow - africa (wett africa)

The third document in our WETT series, Wood Energy Today for Tomorrow - Africa (WETT Africa): analysis of its role and the data quality issues, is now ready and has been sent for printing and distribution. Mr Samir Amous has made an extraordinary effort to prepare this document, which is nearly 200 pages long and is full of statistical data on woodfuels from the most relevant sources of information, such as FAOSTAT, IEA, ESMAP, ENDA and national databases. This document has been made possible thanks to the contribution of many colleagues, not only from FAO's Forestry Department, but also from IEA, ENDA and the African countries involved. These data are now being incorporated into WEIS [see Ms Sandra Rivero's article above on this subject].

The following paragraphs have been extracted from the Executive Summary in order to give our readers a brief description of the role played by woodfuels in Africa.

According to the best estimates available, African woodfuel consumption reached 623 million m3 in 1994; thus Africa has the highest per caput woodfuel consumption (0.89 m3 per year) than any other continent (e.g. Asia has 0.3 m3 per caput per year).

All African countries, except for the five North African countries and South Africa, still rely heavily on wood for meeting their basic energy needs. In the different African regions, the woodfuel share ranges from 61 to 86 percent of primary energy consumption, the greater part (74 to 97 percent) being consumed by households. The management of woodfuel resources and demand should be a major issue in the energy planning processes in Africa.

On the other hand, woodfuel consumption is a principal contributor to total wood removals in Africa, around 92 percent of total African wood consumption, and to greenhouse gas emissions. Woodfuel use is, therefore, a major local and global environmental issue in Africa, and it should be fully integrated into the continent`s forestry planning and environmental protection processes.

In addition, woodfuels play an important social and economic role in almost all countries. They represent a significant economic value in many African countries, reaching roughly US$6 billion for the whole of Africa, in which the charcoal monetary contribution would exceed US$1 billion.

While fuelwood used to account for a considerable part of total woodfuel consumption, social and economic mutations associated with the urbanization process will lead to a significant shift from fuelwood to charcoal, increasing the energy, environmental, economic and social role in Africa in the future.

Despite the important interactions of wood energy with development, environment and social welfare, there have only been a few attempts in Africa to include woodfuels as a basic sector in the planning process, which is seriously hampered by the scarcity, limited scope and low quality of the existing data.

The assessment of the various woodfuel data sources in Africa led to the following main conclusions:

· The FAO database is the only source of data that includes almost all the African countries (except for six minor consuming countries) and provides continuous time series for each country. However, the FAO database presents estimated figures rather than actual ones and does not provide any detailed sectorial figures.

· The IEA database presents individual data for only 23 countries, and provides roughly global estimates for the 31 other countries under "Other Africa". In addition, sectorial consumption of woodfuels is only available for 1995 and 1996, while the data for the remaining years are presented under an aggregated form (Aggregate Primary Supply of Combustible Renewable and Waste).

· The ESMAP documents considered data for 39 countries out of 55, with various quality levels, and generally reported only one reference year rather than a historical series.

· The ENDA/IEPE documents reported data for only 28 countries, and only one reference year. In addition, no detailed sectorial consumption figures were provided.

· The "Other National" and "International" sources of data that were identified provided various levels of detail, consistency and accuracy. Unfortunately, these sources focused on the demand side of the woodfuel issues, neglecting the supply side, and did not generally make any indication as to the origin, quality, or even the estimation approach of the data, making it difficult to undertake any adequate assessment.

This exercise shows that great progress has been made in the work of Mr Amous. However, improving knowledge of woodfuel demand and supply, as well as its economic and social role, should be undertaken in the future, particularly through a durable and systematic data collection, compilation and analysis process, under a unified approach and with the involvement of the major international organizations concerned. These processes might be established in four different directions:

· improve national capabilities for a more efficient data collection process;

· prepare clear guidelines for woodfuel surveys;

· improve data quality and fill data gaps through the implementation of field surveys using an adequate methodology and surveying approach; and

· carry out area-based woodfuel flow studies to improve the understanding of wood energy systems and to make them more environmentally sustainable.

For more information, please contact: Mr Miguel Trossero at the address given on the first page.

Woodfuel - guidelines for data verification and collection

Woody fuels are a key component of current energy use in many countries. For instance, many countries in Africa rely on wood energy. According to current figures from FAOSTAT, woodfuels represent about 89 percent of African forest removals and, particularly for tropical Africa, account for more than 75 percent of energy demand. However, in general, the data available are scarce and poorly defined, and the existing information is scattered in national agencies.

The present institutional capacity to verify, check, collect, analyse, interpret, store and present woodfuel information is very weak in most African countries. Moreover, the methodologies available for the implementation of woodfuel surveys need to be improved. Therefore, simple and concise guidelines need to be prepared to verify, review and/or collect data regarding the different operation units of consumption, production and trade of woodfuels.

FAO's Wood Energy Group is actively working on this subject. Guidelines are being prepared for the verification of existing woodfuel data regarding the different aspects of the wood energy system and data are being collected to fill the multiple data gaps in most wood energy databases. The guidelines will also provide instructions for the interpretation, collation and presentation of woodfuel data.

All guidelines will be prepared in line with the Unified Wood Energy Terminology (UWET) and the Wood Energy Programme tables for data accounting.

For more information, please contact: Mr Miguel Trossero at the address given on the first page.


The World Food Day/TeleFood theme for this year is

"Youth against hunger"

"Les jeunes contre la faim"

"La juventud contra el hambre"

Wri millennium assessment

The World Resources Institute (WRI) is currently working on a Millennium Assessment of the state of the World's Ecosystems, defined in terms of their capacity to provide the goods and services humans need. One of the goods to be covered is energy.

In the chapter dedicated to forest products, there will be a special item on the analysis of woodfuel issues.

For more information, please contact: Ms Emily Matthews, Senior Associate, World Resources Institute, 1709 New York Avenue N.W. Washington,
DC 20006, USA.
E-mail: reip1@wri.org; or
Mr Adrian Whiteman, Forestry Officer (Sector Studies), FONS, FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.
Fax: (+39) 06 57055514;
e-mail: adrian.whiteman@fao.org
[More details on the specific items presented in this report will be given in a future issue of Forest Energy Forum.]

And have you heard about ...

iea bioenergy news ?

IEA Bioenergy is an international collaborative agreement set up in 1978 by the International Energy Agency (IEA) to improve international cooperation and information exchange between national bioenergy RD&D programmes. IEA Bioenergy aims to realize the use of environmentally sound and cost-competitive bioenergy on a sustainable basis in order to provide a substantial contribution to meeting future energy demands.

IEA Bioenergy News is issued every six months (June and December) and has recently acquired a new look. Its revamped format can be seen on the new Web page at the following address: www.forestresearch.cri.nz/ieabioenergy/home.htm

For more information, please contact: Mr Justin Ford-Robertson, Editor,
IEA Bioenergy News, Forest Research, Private Bag 3020, Rotorua,
New Zealand.
Fax: (+64) 7 347 5332;
e-mail: bioenergy.news@fri.cri.nz
[Please see Forest Energy Forum No. 2 for more information on IEA.]

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