This space is for our readers to air their views and make their comments. So, please write to us with your ideas/views/comments and suggestions for items that you feel should be covered in future issues, at the address given in the Editorial.

Feedback on the article on the biogas microturbine featured in FEF2

Edan Prabhu has informed us that his article on the Biogas Microturbine has "generated" interest in Uganda. Below is an extract from the letter Mr Prabhu received from Ms Patience Turyareeba, Acting Leader, Forest Products Programme of the Forestry Research Institute.

We have been trying to improve efficiency in the forest industry, particularly in sawmilling, which is the major activity in forest industries in Uganda. Most sawmills are located in rural areas and only use up 25 to 40 percent of the round wood they pay for. Most sawmills, particularly those in pine and conifer plantations, are the mobile type. They all depend on diesel for energy. Even stationary sawmills connected to the national grid use diesel because of insufficient power supply from the national utility.
   In 1997, we wrote a proposal on power generation from wood waste for the Forestry College but the only technology we had heard about was the gasifier. According to some information obtained from the Natural Resources Institute in the United Kingdom, this system was not considered cost-effective for a load of less than 100 kW. We have since been looking for an alternative.
   We would like to know more about the microturbine generators. We believe that there are opportunities for biomass-based technologies for power generation, in the forest industry and other agroprocessing establishments. Such technologies may even be the answer to rural electrification in developing countries.

We are delighted to learn that our forum is helping in some small way.

First, well-deserved congratulations on Forest Energy Forum. Issue 3 is as good as the others and is a really valuable newsletter. It is a pity, though, about the major blunder on pages 4 and 5 regarding the forest areas needed to absorb CO2 emissions from, and to provide fuel for, a 1 MW power station. With the same forest yields, the areas needed are more or less the same in each case: 500 ha, not an additional 500 ha each year for the CO2 sequestration approach. (I put "more or less" because the comparison depends on the efficiency of a wood-burning versus a coal-burning power plant; with the same efficiencies the areas are the same.) (Mr Gerald Leach, London, UK)

Thank you, Mr Leach, for bringing this to our attention. The word "annual" should be deleted from the diagram on page 4 of Forest Energy Forum No. 3; the sentence should read: "A coal power plant (1 MW) in its lifetime (of approximately 30 years) requires a plantation of 500 ha of permanent forests to sequester CO2 emissions". Please see revised slide below.

I received Forest Energy Forum issue No. 3 and have read it with great interest.
We are engaged in convincing our electricity suppliers to accept the regular operation of small power units in net [grid]. They don't want it. I would be glad to hear from you what kind of arguments we may use to convince them. What are the rules for such an operation in the United States and Europe?
We intend to promote this possibility in our state through our industry federation, FIERGS, in specific talks at workshops, etc. Our group in FIERGS takes charge of renewable energy.
We would be grateful for any help you can give us. (Eng. Paulo R. Wolff, Pôrto Alegre, Brazil)

Can any of our readers help? If so, please contact us, or Mr Wolff at the following address: Bos Wolff Cia. Ltda., Rua Indianápolis 30, 91330-060 Pôrto Alegre RS, Brazil. Fax: (+55) 51 3287085; e-mail: boswolff@portoweb.com.br

I am in receipt of the two publications: The role of wood energy in Asia and OECD and The role of wood energy in Asia [FAO Regional Studies on Wood Energy Today for Tomorrow, 1997]. The information in these books is very informative. Most of us here do not realize the extent of woodfuel used by developed countries. We think that wood is essentially a poor person's fuel. With these books I will be able to convince our people of the role of woodfuel in our future planning. (P.G. Joseph, Energy Conservation Fund, Sri Lanka)

Muchas felicidades por el boletín Forest Energy Forum que ustedes editan cada seis meses. Me parece sumamente interesante y de gran importancia su difusión. Me gustaría continuar recibiéndolo, cuál sería el trámite que debo realizar. Un cordial saludo. (Sandra Robles Gil, Comisión Nacional del Agua, México)

To put your name on our mailing list, please send your full postal address to Forest-Energy-Forum@fao.org The following is a recent exchange of e-mails on the Stoves list which we would like to share with our readers. It also led to the contribution by Prof. Yury Yudkevitch in Country Compass (Russian Federation).

"I visited the Svaliava forest chemical factory the first week of December. This factory is in the Carpathian Mountains in southwestern Ukraine. I used to visit this factory frequently many years back. Now Ukraine is a separate state, but the director of the factory asked me for advice. The factory makes large quantities of charcoal from beech and oak. In 1980, it processed 150 000 m3 of fuelwood and obtained 15 000/20 000 tonnes/year of charcoal.
A large and efficient workshop was constructed there for processing tar and water condensate. This workshop worked well, but is now costly owing to the lack of buyers of its traditional products: a food acid, solvent for paints, etc. There is a small order for a tar impurity for making concrete. The factory's technology was an example of complete processing of the liquid products of charcoaling.
Today this factory makes 15 percent of its former volume of charcoal; it makes good activated charcoal and has wide experience in charcoaling.
The factory staff would like to have contacts in other countries, but they have limited communication methods. They have asked me to inform anyone who would like to contact them, that they can do so through me by e-mail or by fax." (Yury Yudkevitch, Russian Federation)
"I think our stoves group would enjoy hearing more about the conversion technology that is being used at this factory. Is it similar to what you have described in the past as being developed in your own laboratory? Are the pyrolysis gases vented or flared? What is the conversion efficiency by weight? I hope that your message is able to help promote their product.
Is it possible that some of the downturn in production has occurred because of the nuclear fallout following the Chernobyl accident? If contamination would have affected the trees in this part of Ukraine, would it perhaps be better to totally combust all of the biomass (probably mainly for electricity production) and depend on filtration to contain all of the radioactive residue? Have there been tests to show that both the charcoal and the chemical by-products are clean?
Or is the problem that which has recently been noted - that fossil sources are now simply cheaper? (And we have to wait a bit longer before the fossil fuel prices rise as supplies disappear?)" (Ronal W. Larson, USA)

For more information, please contact:
Prof. Yury Yudkevitch,
Department of Technology of Chemical Forest Products of St Petersburg Forest Technical Academy,
St Petersburg, Russian Federation;
fax: (+7) 3133 73256/22571;
e-mail: woodcoal@mailbox.alkor.ru;

Ronal W. Larson, 21547 Mountsfield Dr.
Golden, CO 80401, USA;
Fax: (+1) 303 526 9629;
e-mail: larcon@sni.net or stoves@crest.org

"Things which matter most should never be at the mercy of things that matter least"

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