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BUILDING NATIONAL CAPACITIES IN WOOD ENERGY PLANNING

A major objective of the FAO Regional Wood Energy Development Programme (RWEDP) is to develop national capacity in integrating wood energy aspects in the planning and policy formulation exercises in energy and other sectors such as forestry, agriculture and environment of its member countries. An important component is the improvement of the capacity to collect and analyse wood energy data and information. This is necessary not only to focus and highlight the significant contribution of wood energy in the sectors mentioned, but, even more important, to develop or strengthen capacity for the formulation and adoption of appropriate policies, strategies and programmes for sustainable wood energy development in the countries.

RWEDP expects that if credible wood energy data and information are available and then used in robust analysis of trends and projections of woodfuel supply and use, the result will be a wider recognition of the importance of woodfuels among policy-makers and the adoption of effective strategies and programmes.

RWEDP's capacity-building activities started with three regional courses on wood energy planning where representatives from the 16 member countries participated. The regional courses were then followed by national courses in nine countries. Further capacity-building activities are now being conducted in eight countries, which are implementing case studies on wood energy planning. The case studies are being conducted in Cambodia, China, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam.

The courses introduced participants to wood energy planning concepts, approaches and methods. On the other hand, the case studies provide on-the-job training for a limited number of prospective national wood energy planning experts. Both the courses and the case studies involve training in three subjects: collection and analysis of wood energy data; assessment and analysis of the wood energy situation; and planning and policy studies for wood energy using the Long-range Energy Alternatives Planning (LEAP) model.


However, the limited number of people involved in the case studies, the effort to conduct the studies as part of the participants' regular planning tasks and the longer time allotted to conduct the activities compared with the courses should result in a more intensive training process for the participants. In addition, with the use of actual data, the case studies should provide the participants with a fuller and deeper understanding of the concepts and methods of wood energy planning that will allow them to initiate its application and practice in their respective agencies. In the end, the trainees should become the countries' national experts on wood energy planning.


The case studies have the following objectives:

· to generate actual experiences in wood energy planning activities in the country;

· to formulate techniques and approaches for collecting data and information for the analysis of woodfuel supply from non-forest areas for district- and provincial-level studies, in particular;

· to provide on-the-job training in wood energy planning in order to develop local wood energy planning expertise; and

· to define follow-up activities to strengthen wood energy planning capabilities in the country.

The studies involve two major activities. The first is wood energy data collection, assessment and analysis. The second is energy analysis and planning studies using the LEAP model. In preparation for the implementation of the case studies, RWEDP conducted an intensive LEAP training through tutorials for participants of the studies.

The participants mainly came from energy and forestry agencies that have agreed to cooperate in the implementation of the case studies. This cooperation is important as it is expected that the case studies will also help the two agencies identify their particular tasks and responsibilities with regard to data collection and planning for wood energy.

The case studies focus especially on formulating approaches and techniques for collecting data needed for the analysis of woodfuel supply from non-forest areas. Two types of approach are being formulated: the first is to generate secondary data that can be used in a macro-level planning exercise; and the second is to collect primary data needed for local-level (provincial- or district-level) planning exercises.

In most of the eight countries, the study is being carried out at three levels. The national-level study is an exercise in integrating wood energy in national level energy planning. It involves the application of the LEAP model in conducting macro-level analyses of policies and strategies in sectors affecting wood energy supply and use (such as energy, forestry, and agriculture). It also includes the identification of requirements for strengthening national-level capacities for wood energy data collection and planning. The provincial-level planning study is an exercise in area-based decentralized planning for wood energy at the provincial level. The study involves site-specific (i.e. provincial-specific) policy analysis using the LEAP model and identifies the requirements for developing capacities for provincial-level wood energy data collection and planning. Finally, the district-level planning study is an exercise in area-based decentralized wood energy planning at the district level, wood energy programme formulation, and wood energy case study identification and evaluation.

A major output that is expected from these case studies is the production of national guidebooks on wood energy planning, in English and the national language. (Contributed by: Conrado Heruela, Wood Energy Planning Expert, RWEDP.)

For more information, please contact: RWEDP, c/o RAP, Maliwan Mansion, Phra Atit Road, Bangkok 10200, Thailand.
Fax: +66 2 280 0760;
E-mail: RWEDP@fao.org;
www.rwedp.org

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


Sustainable livelihoods is a comprehensive approach that addresses the needs for a holistic approach that includes participatory design, interdisciplinary work, efficiency and sustainability.




BOILING POINT

The theme of a recent issue (No. 43) of Boiling Point was "Fuel options for household energy". The subsequent issue deals with the theme "Linking household energy with other development objectives". This topic stems from the need to look at projects as being a way of improving the quality of life for communities, rather than as technical interventions. The journal examines ways in which household energy considerations can be part of other development sectors, such as forestry, building or health, and the social, economic and technical benefits of such an approach.

For more information, please contact: Ms Liz Bates, Intermediate Technology Development Group, Schumacher Centre for Technology Development, Bourton Hall, Bourton on Dunsmore, Warwickshire CV23 9QZ, UK.
Fax: +44 01788 661101;
E-mail: lizb@itdg.org.uk;
www.oneworld.org/itdg  or www.itdg.org.pe

[Boiling Point, a technical journal dedicated to household energy, published by Intermediate Technology Development Group, was highlighted in the first issue of Forest Energy Forum.]




COUNTRY CASE STUDIES OF WOOD ENERGY ACTIVITIES IN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES

Twenty-four country case studies focusing on the institutional and legal aspects of wood energy activities in European countries are now being finalized. This report is part of a larger document entitled, Institutional and legal aspects regulating wood energy activities in European countries, a study carried out by FAO's Wood Energy Programme together with the Italian Biomass Association (ITABIA). [See Forest Energy Forum No. 5.]

The results of the study show that, as a whole, many European governments support the initiative and encourage private sector use of bioenergy, in general, and wood energy, in particular. The institutional set-up, government policies and legal matters, however, may not always be that straightforward. There are intercountry differences as well as variations among local, national and regional institutional standards and procedures. These may be gleaned from the way in which different countries establish their research and development commitments, laws, regulations, taxation, grants, subsidies and NGO efforts, to name but a few.

Among the countries included in the study, seven countries in particular revealed clear-cut policies and strong government support with regard to bioenergy initiatives, namely: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom.

In Austria, for instance, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry supports short-rotation forestry production, the establishment of rural district heating plants and the purchase of biomass heating systems. It also funds research and other related projects. Similarly, Austria's Ministry for Economic Affairs, Ministry of the Environment, Youth and Family Affairs, Ministry of Science and Transport, Energy Commissioners and the Energy Efficiency Agencies perform more or less similar biomass energy-friendly roles. Furthermore, the Austrian Constitution (Bundesverfassungsgesetz Art. 15) specifies that the minimal efficiency as well as the emission limitations for automatic residential heating systems up to 350 kW are obligatory, as specified in agreements between the Federal State and the provinces.

While Belgium does not have a national renewable energy programme, environmental guidelines have recently been drawn up for the Walloon and Flemish regions. Belgium considers the use of renewables as part of its environmental policy to help the country establish their carbon emission guidelines. Through government organizations, the Federal Government and governments of each region are responsible for agriculture, energy and environmental policies. Among non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Wallonia Biomass Energy Agency (ERBE), the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), Belgian Biomass Association (BELBIOM) and the Agricultural Engineering Station of the Centre for Agronomic Research (CRA Gembloux) are all involved in either statistics generation, experimentation and community work or assistance to municipalities and enterprises in the implementation of bioenergy work and projects.

Denmark's energy, environmental and agricultural policies are interdependent. Environmental considerations were integrated into energy policy early on and such issues were incorporated in an energy policy. The major input launched in 1988 was Energie 21, a document which sets out guidelines for the future sustainable development of energy production within the next 35 years. Renewable energy is expected to cover 35 percent of the energy demand in 2035, one of the major focuses being biomass energy. In 1990, the Danish Parliament adopted the "Energie 2000" action plan in order to stabilize CO2 emissions by the year 2000 and to lower them by 20 percent by 2005.

For more information, please contact Miguel.Trossero@fao.org

[More information will be given in the next issue of Forest Energy Forum.]



"ENGENDER" ENERGY

The first phase of ENERGIA, a global network of people and institutions interested in gender and sustainable energy, has been successfully completed. During this phase, which ended in December 1998, the network received increasing credibility and status, and has consequently contributed to increasing the recognition of gender issues in energy planning. Building on these achievements, a second phase was initiated in July 1999.

For this three-year second phase, ENERGIA's overall objective continues to be to "engender" energy and to "empower" women so that they can play an active role in energy planning and decision-making through the promotion of information exchange, training, research, advocacy and action aimed at strengthening the role of women in sustainable development. One of the tools being used is their newsletter ENERGIA News, seven issues of which were produced in the first phase, with 12 planned for the second phase.

Through its many activities, ENERGIA aims to integrate gender issues into energy policies.

For more information, please contact: Ms Sheila Oparaocha, ENERGIA News Secretariat, c/o ETC Energy, Kastanjelaan 5, 3830 AB Leusden, the Netherlands.
Fax: +31 33 4940791;
E-mail: energia@etcnlo.nl

[ENERGIA News was highlighted in the second issue of Forest Energy Forum.]

Much of the wood harvested worldwide each year is used for energy production. Of the estimated 3 350 million m3 of wood harvested in 1995, about 2 100 million m3, or 63 percent, were used as woodfuel. While in developed countries only 33 percent of the wood produced was used for energy purposes, in developing countries woodfuels accounted for 81 percent (91 percent in Africa, 82 percent in Asia and 70 percent in Latin America) of the wood harvested. Woodfuels remain significant sources of energy in developing countries, especially in the rural and domestic sectors. In recent years, however, they have been attracting attention as environmentally friendly modern energy carriers.

Changes in energy policies, higher fossil fuels prices and environmental concerns have favoured the development of wood energy systems, and new biomass energy technologies are improving the economic feasibility of wood energy. Moreover, new technologies are making woodfuels an attractive and cost-effective energy carrier that is being rapidly adopted in many developed countries as an environmentally friendly source of energy for the displacement of fossil fuels, thus mitigating climate changes.

(Source: FAO's Wood Energy Programme.)




EUPHORBIA TIRUCALLI FOR HIGH BIOMASS PRODUCTION IN SEMI-ARID ZONES

Euphorbia tirucalli is a unique example of a plant combining permanent crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) stems with short-lived C3 leaves. During humid spells when leaves are present, this combination allows high CO2 uptake and, thus, elevated growth rates. In fact, field experiments in near-to-practice field situations in a semi-arid environment in Kenya gave fresh matter yields of up to 500 tonnes per hectare per year. In combination with its high drought and salinity stress tolerance/resistance, E. tirucalli is a prime candidate for sustained and high biomass production in marginal, arid to semi-arid areas without the necessity of having to use costly inputs. Moreover, in a context of renewed or increased interest in renewable energy, Melvin Calvin's initial idea of using Euphorbia species, in general, and E. tirucalli, more specifically, as a source of diesel oil, makes the plant an interesting candidate. (Source: Book of abstracts of the Conference on Combating Desertification with Plants, organized by the International Programme for Arid Land Crops [IPALAC], 1-5 November 1999.)

For more information, please contact: Mr P. Van Damme, University of Gent, Department of Plant Production, Tropical Agriculture and Ethnobotany, Coupure Links, 653, B-900 Gent, Belgium.
E-mail:
Patrick.Vandamme@rug.ac.be;
fax: +32 9 264 62 41.



EUROPEAN COMMISSION AND RENEWABLE ENERGY SYSTEMS

The European Commission (EC) has supported a wide range of projects and actions to encourage the development of renewable energy technologies. It is important that the results from these actions are publicized as widely as possible throughout the renewable energy industry in Europe in order to encourage a rapid uptake of new developments and technologies.

For this reason, the European Union (EU) has supported the production of a series of CD-ROMs. These present, in multimedia format, a wide range of technical, economic and practical information concerning renewable energy technologies, especially those which have been demonstrated successfully by EU-supported programmes. The CD-ROM format provides all interested users with useful information on the most advanced R&D projects, the best available market technologies, developers, suppliers and innovative projects in the sector. It also provides details of the economics of the technologies and their environmental benefits.

To date, CD-ROMs have been produced in the following areas:
· Biogas from waste and waste water treatment
· Bioclimatic architecture
· Wind energy technologies
· Biomass combustion

The intended users of these CD-ROMs are the key decision-makers in each of the technological areas. The CD-ROMs provide easy access to up-to-date information about the new renewable energy technologies thus increasing their awareness of the opportunities available.

A recent publication, Renewable energy systems - new solutions in energy supply, presented the LIOR CD-ROM collection as being one of the successful projects of the European Commission.

A copy of the publication is available from: European Commission, Directorate-General Energy, 200 rue de la Loi, B-1049 Brussels, Belgium. (Source: LIOR International; www.lior-int.com/ .)



EU AND RENEWABLE ENERGY

Five European associations promoting the use of renewable energy are due to inaugurate their joint office on 8 June 2000. The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), the European Association of Renewable Energy Research Centres (EUREC Agency), the European Small Hydro Association (ESHA), the European Solar Industry Federation (ESIF) and the European Renewable Energy Export Council (EREEC) are opening their offices at 26 rue du Trône, Brussels, Belgium. (Source: EUREC press release; www.eurec.be/ . )



EXCO MEETING 45 OF IEA BIOENERGY

Mr Miguel Trossero, Senior Forestry Officer (Wood Energy), represented FAO at the meeting of the 45th Executive Committee of IEA Bioenergy, which took place in Utrecht, the Netherlands, from 29 to 31 May 2000. This useful meeting was attended by approximately 30 representatives from 16 countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, and the European Union.

Mr Trossero gave a presentation on the opportunities and activities to be undertaken within the recently signed FAO-IEA Bioenergy Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which were then discussed in an ad hoc meeting with representatives interested in this future collaboration.

Agreement was reached to start cooperation in a few selected areas with the aim of improving communication among experts in the bioenergy field, in both the forestry and energy sectors of developed and developing countries, participation in meetings organized by both groups and the development of special education and training activities regarding bioenergy aspects and issues.

In addition, it was decided to initiate collaboration with Task 28 "Solid biomass standardization and classification" and Task 29 "Socio-economic aspects of bioenergy systems", areas in which FAO's Wood Energy Programme has already been working and can contribute. In fact, the first meeting with members of these two Tasks took place in Seville, Spain [see following article] and this closer collaboration will continue when Ms E. Remedio (Visiting Scientist with FAO's Wood Energy Programme) will attend the meeting organized by Task 29 during the 4th World Renewable Energy Congress to be held in Brighton; United Kingdom, in July 2000.

During a field visit to demonstrate the different technical solutions for the utilization of wood as fuel, Mr Trossero also visited two power plants that generate bioelectricity. These two initiatives are being implemented within the Netherlands programme to reduce GHG emissions. One power plant consisted of a boiler fuelled by a co-combustion system of coal and wood. The second plant was fuelled by the co-combustion of natural gas and producer gas based on fuelwood. Both examples show how wood energy is becoming a competitive source of energy, especially when the wood used as fuel is derived from construction and demolition activities.

For more information, please contact: Ms Elizabeth Remedio, Visiting Scientist, Wood Energy Programme, Forest Products Division, Forestry Department, FAO.
E-mail:
Elizabeth.Remedio@fao.org



FIRST WORLD CONFERENCE AND EXHIBITION ON BIOMASS FOR ENERGY AND INDUSTRY

Mr Miguel Trossero also represented FAO at the First World Conference and Exhibition on Biomass for Energy and Industry, which was held in Seville, Spain from 5 to 9 June 2000, and helped the organizers (EnergiaTA-Florence and WIP-Munich in collaboration with CIEMAT-Madrid) in the preparation and implementation of the Workshop on Biofuels and Food: Ways for a Sustainable Approach.

Many developed countries, such as Sweden, Finland, Austria and the United States, are increasingly using bioenergy in modern applications and this conference merged the traditional European Conference on Biomass with the Biomass Conference of the Americas, thus becoming a relevant opportunity for debate and exchange of views in this field. In fact, the different sessions of the conference were attended by more than 1 000 participants from industrialized countries, and a few participants from developing countries.

In addition, the conference organized the largest exhibition to date of public and private companies (more than 100 companies) offering specialized expertise and services, which is a clear demonstration of the growing number of actors involved in this field.

There is little doubt that this conference is the most important event organized so far that is expected to influence future energy and agricultural policies, programmes and projects.

· The following are some of the salient points resulting from the discussions:

· bioenergy is the key to meet the Kyoto Protocol commitments;

· many countries have incorporated bioenergy in their energy policies and are increasingly using bioenergy as a local and decentralized source of energy, although the growth rate is still lower than originally expected;

· many efforts are still needed to remove barriers, both old and new;

· bioenergy needs incentives and funds to involve more actors from the private sector;

· biofuels derived from energy plantations are still too expensive, but the use of recycled wood and other residues is now competitive with other conventional sources of energy;

· combined heat and power plants fuelled by wood chips seems to be the solution favoured and the one most widely adopted;

· bioelectricity from co-combustion of wood with coal and other fuels is also becoming attractive;

· biofuels for the transport sector have made great progress, but are still not yet competitive; and

· use of biodiesel is increasing in some countries, such as Italy and France.

For more information, please contact: EnergiaTA-Florence, Piazza Savonarola 10, 1-50132, Florence, Italy.
Fax +39 055 573425 or
Miguel.Trossero@fao.org.



FLEX-MICROTURBINE FOR BIOMASS GASES: AN UPDATE

FlexEnergy (formerly Reflective Energies) reports significant progress in its efforts to develop the Flex-MicroturbineTM. The new power plant will run on very low-energy gases from food and animal waste digesters and also on producer gas from wood waste, rice hulls, nutshells and forest and orchard trimmings. Fuel gases with only 5 percent methane or 10 percent hydrogen will provide sufficient energy to run the power plant. No other fuel will be needed. Funds have been secured for the development and work is about to begin. Funding is being provided by the United States Department of Energy through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, California's PIER Program and by the project developers.

Clean energy for the planet

FlexEnergy's partner, Capstone Turbine Corporation, is already making and selling microturbines. Digesters and gasifiers are available commercially; the waste fuels are everywhere, in city dumps, farms, forests and orchards. The Flex-Microturbine will be a simple means to convert the gas into electricity. Small, quiet and pollution-free, the new system will meet environmental requirements everywhere.

Early units, each of 30 kW, are anticipated late in 2000, with field demonstration units in 2001 followed soon after by commercial production. By consuming low-energy fuels that are commonly wasted, the Flex-Microturbine will be able to provide low-cost electricity to rural areas, where petroleum fuels are often expensive. All the above fuels are renewable energy that would break down into methane of carbon monoxide anyway. The Flex-Microturbine offers the promise of delivering electricity from renewable energy to remote villages with higher reliability and lower costs than grid power.

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

[This microturbine was highlighted in the second issue of Forest Energy Forum.]



FORESTS IN FOCUS

In 1998 and 1999, five international conferences on forest issues were organized by the regional EXPO-project "Welt Forum Wald" (World Forum on Forests) of the district of Soltau-Fallingbostel in Lower Saxony, Germany, in preparation for EXPO 2000 in Hanover [see Forest Energy Forum No. 4].

More than 500 participants from all around the world, among them some 160 experts from science, industry, politics, the media and NGOs, discussed in alternating parallel workshops and plenary sessions current topics related to forests. There was no attempt to conduct a comprehensive review of all global forest issues. The five groups focused on the topics that they considered were of particular concern and for which they had special competence. One of the conferences covered Forests and Energy.

Forests and Energy

Woodfuels play a role in many regions of the world, both forested and non-forested. In some parts it is the most prominently used fuel, in others it is of minor importance. Globally, woodfuels contribute a significant amount to energy supplies in both formal and informal markets. The significance of wood as an energy source is often neglected as:

· energy from biomass is considered to be traditional and old-fashioned, and associated with lack of economic development;

· current political, economic and social conditions do not take woodfuels into consideration;

· continuous and reliable woodfuel supplies are regarded as doubtful and destructive to forests; and

· conversion technologies, adapted for particular circumstances, either on a large or a small scale, are not well known by decision-makers.

Nevertheless, overall the potential of woodfuels is seen as very promising among the renewable energy options, particularly in those rural areas where other sources of energy may be difficult to obtain. There are several opportunities for the use of wood for decentralized local energy supply and for input into larger scale grids, including the conversion of fuelwood originating from plantations, traditional forestry and agroforestry systems, residues in timber processing industries, waste wood and by-products of the pulp and paper production, such as black liquor. At the same time, energy from woodfuels contributes to rural development by providing additional job opportunities and increased income. Furthermore, the use of woodfuels offers benefits by providing mechanisms to combat greenhouse gas accumulation, through the substitution of fossil fuels with a renewable resource, and the sequestration of CO2 in biomass.

Based on participants' common experiences, the overall recommendations of the Conference on Forests and Energy are:

· internationalization of biomass energy issues in order to promote a change in national policies;

· enhancement of demand for woodfuels in order to stimulate and expand supply markets; and

· improvement of institutional, regulatory and market framework conditions for the production of energy from biomass.

For more information, please contact: Ms Jutta Poker, Alfred Toepfer Akademie für Naturschutz, Hof Möhr, D-29640 Schneverdingen, Germany.
E-mail: Forum.Office@nna.de



FORESTRY EDUCATION FOR SUSTAINABLE WOOD ENERGY DEVELOPMENT

The FAO Regional Wood Energy Development Programme (RWEDP) is actively collaborating with the lead national forestry training institutes in its 16 member countries in Asia to integrate the issues of sustainable wood energy development in the curricula of forestry and agroforestry training and education. This need was recognized in RWEDP taking into account the current economic contribution of wood energy in the national economy as well as in the rural socio-economy of member countries, through income and employment generation to the poor in rural areas. As much as 80 percent of total supply and more than 90 percent of household energy supply in some member countries are being met with woodfuels - and the consumption is not decreasing but increasing at an average rate of 1.6 percent per annum in absolute terms. It is estimated that about 10 percent of the rural population are self-employed in the activities related to production, transportation and trade in woodfuels, earning about 40 percent of their cash income. The employment potential in other woodfuel-based industrial and commercial activities is not included in this figure. The current economic value of the woodfuel used in RWEDP member countries is estimated to be US$30 billion per annum.

One of several activities pursued by RWEDP in this direction was the Expert Consultation on the Integration of Wood Energy into the Training Curricula of Forestry Education, a regional-level consultation which was held in 1998 in Cha-Am, Thailand. This consultation was designed to review the present coverage of wood energy development issues and subjects in the prevailing curricula of lead national forestry and agroforestry training and education institutes of member countries. All lead national forestry institutes in RWEDP member countries participated in the consultation and a report has been published (RWEDP Field Document No. 56).

During the consultation it was agreed that prevailing forestry and agroforestry curricula lack adequate integration of wood energy subjects and, therefore, both need a thorough review in order to incorporate modern approaches of sustainable wood energy development. An important concern that needs further integration is the skill to analyse environmental aspects of wood energy. This has become especially significant following the Kyoto Protocol, which has opened a new avenue for development in the forestry sector by recognizing the positive role of forests in mitigating GHG emissions into the atmosphere, and in carbon sequestration. However, some policy-makers and planners in many member countries still view the misconception advocated globally during the mid 1970s as true and point to woodfuel use by the poor as being the root cause of tropical forest deforestation in their respective countries. This, together with other aspects, calls for adequate consideration in forestry and agroforestry training curricula in member countries.

Sustainable wood energy development cuts across different sectors. But, in practice, it is the forestry agencies in member countries that are perceived as being responsible for managing the wood energy resources to maintain a sustained supply of woodfuels to the users - including rural and urban households, industries and commercial enterprises - despite the fact that as much as two thirds of the woodfuel consumed annually in member countries may be produced from non-forest lands, from farms, homesteads and private lands, village or community lands and scrub or waste lands. If all types of biomass fuels are taken together, then the contribution of non-forest land in total supply could be even higher. But the agriculture sector so far has not made any assessment of its contribution to the energy sector, nor does it know adequately the biomass fuel supply potentials of the different land- and tree-based production systems in non-forest lands. The energy sector, which is expected to play a key role in the development of energy and power, including formulation of policies, strategies, plans and programmes for sustainable energy supply, still focuses its priority mainly on the development of conventional sources (i.e. electricity, oil, gas).

Ideally, all directly related sectors (i.e. forestry, energy and agriculture) to wood energy should be acting collectively for the development of wood energy in member countries. Even the health, gender and rural development-related sectors, which are concerned with wood energy development only indirectly, through the adverse impacts of traditional wood energy applications, should also be supporting clean and efficient wood energy applications. In reality, however, the activities related to wood energy development have been assigned solely to the forestry sector and it has been treated as the domain of the forester, even if most forestry professionals do not posses the knowledge and skill required for this additional responsibility of sustainable wood energy development under given forestry and/or agroforestry training and education.

Over the past two years, RWEDP has conducted three national-level consultations on this subject: in India (December 1998), Nepal (August 1999) and Viet Nam (October 1999). The scope of three other national-level workshops/consultations in 1999 on woodfuel production and trade (in Bangladesh, the Philippines and Sri Lanka) was expanded to include wood energy education. These national-level follow-up consultations on wood energy education were organized mainly by the experts who had participated in the regional consultation on the subject (June 1998). Therefore, these country-level follow-up activities can be viewed as their acceptance of the importance of woodfuels, as well as a commitment to the task of integration of the important issues of wood energy development in forestry and agroforestry education in their respective countries.

The Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy (IGNFA) has even gone one step further. It has already organized four regional-level workshops on the subject in different parts of India. IGNFA collaborated with other prominent local forestry training institutes to implement these regional workshops. A comprehensive report of these regional workshops in India is being prepared by IGNFA, Dehra Dun.

It is gradually being recognized by many national and local institutions that woodfuel can provide as environmentally sound, economic and reliable local energy source. Therefore, they are recommending that RWEDP continue its assistance to the process of strengthening training and education by expert advice and training materials. (Contributed by: Tara Bhattarai, Wood Energy Resources Specialist, RWEDP.)

For more information, please contact: Tara Bhattarai, Wood Energy Resources Specialist, RWEDP, c/o RAP, Maliwan Mansion, Phra Atit Road, Bangkok 10200, Thailand.
Fax: +66 2 280 0760;
E-mail:
RWEDP@fao.org;
www.rwedp.org

 

ICARO

A recent initiative of the University of Turin, Italy, was to develop and disseminate a new type of solar drier suitable for use in rural areas of the Sahel. Their aim was to help rural families to preserve their products better and consequently increase their income.


The drier was developed and prototypes were tested, both in Italy and in the Niger. After its development, a dissemination phase was set up and a manual for the construction and use of the drier was distributed. Since the drier has been designed for the climatic and technological situation of the Sahel region, attention was given to two kinds of parameters: the first being the technical functioning of the drier, the second the choice of materials, shape and way of construction.

It was necessary that:
· the unit should not be too complicated to build and use;
· materials should be easy to obtain locally;
· the construction process should be practicable for the average Sahelian blacksmith to carry out with his tools;
· the dimensions of the parts (e.g. iron sheeting) should be as close as possible to commercial standards; and
· the unit should be low cost.

As a result, the drier, named "Icaro", was designed and built in the Niger. Made of metal it is a forced-ventilation, indirect-light type. The unit is able to dry from 8 to 16 kg per day of produce (meat, vegetables). The forced ventilation is obtained through the use of a fan powered by a PV module and solar energy transfer is quite satisfactory. A guide for its construction has been prepared and is being distributed free of charge in the Niger, directly to rural blacksmiths, to NGOs and others involved in development and educational activities, such as associations and schools.

Icaro has proved to be efficient, easy to build and use and its cost is reasonable.

For more information, please contact: Mr Stefano Bechis, Dipartimento di Economia e Ingegneria agraria, forestale e ambientale, Sezione di Meccanica agraria, Università di Torino, Via Leonardo da Vinci 44, 10095 Grugliasco (TO), Italy.
Fax: +39 011 6708591;
E-mail: bechis@agraria.unito.it



INFORMACIÓN Y ANÁLISIS PARA EL MANEJO FORESTAL SOSTENIBLE

La FAO ha iniciado la ejecución del Proyecto regional GCP/RLA/133/EC Información y análisis para el manejo forestal sostenible y del componente «Madera para energía», en 13 países de América Central y del Sur, con el cual se espera sumar los esfuerzos internacionales a los nacionales para mejorar los sistemas estadísticos e informativos del sector forestal de la región.

El proyecto abordará el tema mediante el refuerzo de las unidades técnicas responsables de la información y estadísticas forestales de los países involucrados en el proyecto. De esta manera, se espera contribuir al manejo sostenible de los árboles y bosques de la región mediante un sistema de datos e informaciones que permita comprender mejor el funcionamiento del sector forestal y su contribución a la elaboración de políticas forestales más claras y mejor balanceadas desde el punto de vista técnico, económico, ambiental y social.

De igual manera, y como una actividad de alta trascendencia para el desarrollo forestal sostenible, el proyecto se abocará al análisis de tendencias y perspectivas del sector para su consideración en las futuras políticas forestales.

El proyecto, que tiene una duración de tres años (abril 2000 - marzo 2003) y que está financiado por la Comisión Europea (CE) y la FAO, cubre en principio 13 países: Bolivia, el Brasil, Colombia, Costa Rica, el Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, Panamá, el Perú y Venezuela. El resto de los países serán involucrados utilizando los fondos del Programa Regular de la FAO.

Entre los aspectos más interesantes del proyecto, vale la pena resaltar que las informaciones estadísticas relativas a la utilización de la biomasa forestal como fuente energética, es uno de las componentes que el proyecto se propone mejorar.

Como es fácil apreciar en los sistemas informativos forestales existentes, la cantidad, la calidad y el acceso a las informaciones y datos sobre el consumo de los combustibles forestales constituye un inconveniente no solo para conocer la contribución del sector forestal en este campo, sino también para planificar el uso sostenible y racional de dicha biomasa forestal con fines energéticos.

Por tal motivo, el proyecto estará orientado al desarrollo de las capacidades nacionales para la obtención, almacenamiento, procesamiento, presentación y distribución de informaciones estadísticas sobre el consumo, el mercado y la producción de combustibles derivados de los recursos forestales. También se incluirán actividades para el desarrollo y diseminación de metodologías para la obtención y procesamiento de datos estadísticos sobre la utilización de combustibles forestales y la planificación de su uso sustentable.

A tal efecto, el proyecto ha previsto una serie de acciones que permitan:

realizar una revisión de los datos existentes;

efectuar una armonización de las terminologías usadas en los sistemas de información;

elaborar un diagnóstico de los sistemas de información existentes sobre los combustibles forestales; y

llevar a cabo serie de actividades para mejorar las capacidades nacionales y regionales existentes sobre el tema.

Para más información, dirigirse a:
Sr. Torsten Frisk, Oficial Forestal Superior,
Oficina Regional de la FAO para
América Latina y el Caribe,
Casilla 10095, Santiago, Chile
Fax: (+56 2) 3372101/2/3
correo electrónico:
Torsten.Frisk@field.fao.org



NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOOD ENERGY?

Dr Colin J. Campbell has written a brief paper that points out that there is no longer any spare crude oil production capacity in the world, that there are no new large oil fields to discover and exploit, and that ultra-cheap crude oil is a thing of the past. Dr Campbell's paper will be published in the next issue of Oil and Gas Journal. His manuscript can be found on the Internet (www.oilcrisis.com/campbell/mythcap.htm ).

Another article by Brian Fleay, a colleague in Australia, points out that a short-term recovery from the current higher prices will be thwarted by the lack of investment in Persian Gulf oil field infrastructure. This paper can also be found on the Internet (www.oilcrisis.com/ ).

The higher energy prices will affect everybody and nearly everything, and energy is about to become a very active and fascinating field again.

For more information, please contact: Francis de Winter, Ecosystems, Inc., PO Box 7080, 147 South River Street, Suite 207, Santa Cruz, CA 95061, USA.
E-mail: fdw@ecotopia.com



NEW UTILITIES NETWORK

New Utilities Network (NUN) is an African NGO based in Germany whose purpose is the promotion of the commitment of African academics in Europe for environment and nature conservation, as well as technical cooperation in Africa.

NUN proposes an "Investigation on social-cultural information and decision-making structures in rural areas in Africa to improve the acceptance and sustainability of international cooperation projects". One aspect of their proposed work is a simple wood-burning stove.

The better understanding of communication paths that NUN is proposing is very important for the introduction of the new and improved stove technologies on which their worldwide group of 175 members has been working (almost entirely as volunteers). In the first phase, seminars and workshops will be organized to develop a concept to find methodologies and guidelines for the application of technologies within a community for sustainable acceptance and use.

Experiences of African NUN members have shown that international cooperation projects in Africa often suffer by a lack of sustainability.

For more information, please contact: Ms Marion Jackson, New Utilities Network (NUN), Weidenweg 14, 72076 Tübingen, Germany.
Tel./fax: 07071 610 925;
E-mail: marion.jackson@uni-tuebingen.de



OLIVES AS A RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCE

The Spanish electrical group Endesa has turned to olives as a renewable energy source, helping to reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil sources.

For the past three years, Endesa has used olive oil production waste to power the small town of Benameji. The 5.5 million tonnes per year of olive pulp and skins produce about four times the town's energy needs. Endesa is about to build two more olive oil-powered plants and hopes to export its technology to other olive-growing countries, such as Italy, Greece and Turkey. (Source: The Bioenergy List, owner-bioenergy@crest.org )



STOVES

El fogón sin humo: «la cocina ecológica de doña Algeria»

«Siento que me saqué la lotería», dice con voz emocionada la señora Algeria. Hay fiesta en el barrio. Los vecinos se concentran en su casa, mejor dicho, aquellos vecinos que están ligados a perpetuidad a la cocina: las amas de casa.

«Doña Algeria está alegre, qué tendrá la doña?», se preguntan sus vecinas. Lo que tiene es un fogón nada común. Imagínense que para su cocina gastaba doce córdobas al día en leña, y ahora apenas saca de su delantal cuatro cincuenta.

Mientras representantes del organismo Proleña toman fotos, doña Algeria está por servir el «gallopinto» y los del festejo observan el techo de zinc muy tiznado. «Eso se acabó», dice la entusiasmada anfitriona. En su casa estaban aún la muestra de la antigua y desplazada cocina: cuatro ornillas y el tizne del humo que antes se metía por el comedor, la sala, los cuartos y los pulmones.

La cocina ecológica, bautizada como «la cocina de doña Algeria», es un proyecto inicialmente probado en Honduras. Hoy está en la fase demostrativa, tratando de «cocinar la incredulidad» de unas amas de casa muy acostumbradas a soportar la humareda, como dicen las mujeres que saben lo que eso significa.

El nuevo fogón, que está montado sobre un banco, se compone de paredes hechas con ladrillos de barro y de una cámara interior que consiste de dos ollas elaboradas especialmente en La Paz Centro. Una sirve para introducir la leña y la otra facilita la combustión. Alrededor se ha dispuesto ceniza algo compactada: todos estos elementos logran retener y distribuir mejor la energía.

Al contrario de los agujeros tradicionales de las cocinas que todos conocen, la nueva cocina termina en una lámina de metal que ni deja ver las llamas, dejando sólo un boquete lateral, el de la olla, por donde se introduce la leña. El artefacto está diseñado para no dejar escapar nada. Sólo el humo que se va por donde debe irse, es decir por la chimenea, de tal manera que se acabó la era del hollín.

Cuando se presentó el promotor de esta cocina, Rogelio Miranda, doña Algeria lo recibió casi sólo por cortesía. «¿Una cocina sin humo?» Sin embargo, aceptó una demostración. «Es una locura», se repetía mientras escuchaba a un hombre hablar tan apasionadamente de una cocina, como si fuera de un partido de fútbol. Cuando hizo la cocina («Ya estaba hecha, yo sólo la mejoré por vanidad», dice), le colocó azulejos y le dio su pintada con la ayuda de una pandilla del barrio que sabe hacer buenas obras.

No bien cocinó, vio que las palabras del promotor eran de verdad. Doña Algeria se enamoró del fogón sin humo, liberando de paso a su hogar del humo y a sus niños de la tos. El humo que antes se les pegaba en los pulmones ahora se iba por el tubo de hojalata y arriba se esparcía. Y así comprobó que gastaba menos en leña, y comprendió que «no se necesita ser rico para defender el ambiente y proteger la propia salud».

Una señora incrédula que no quería ni ver la demostración, ahora no quiere despegarse de la cocina sin humo. Y con razón, porque para hacer tortillas necesitaba de ocho a doce manojos de leña diarios, y ahora le bastan cuatro. «Con tres rajas de leña tengo para hacer nacatamales», dice contenta. Es una manera de proteger los bosques, y se economiza tanto.

K. Lara, consultor de Proleña, dijo que esta es una alternativa efectiva para las señoras tortilleras y para las que hacen nacatamales pues, además de ahorrar mucho, ya no trabajarán aspirando humo. Es más, hasta el humo se aprovecha, porque como va caliente, se lo distribuye en la cámara del fogón y luego se va por la chimenea, dejando libre la casa.

Se espera masificar la experiencia, pues sólo en este y en otro barrio, el 50 por ciento de los hogares usa leña, ya que el gas butano además de escaso es muy caro. En otros departamentos, según K. Lara, se espera establecer contactos con ONG para promover esta cocina, cuyo costo es de poco inferior a 300 córdobas.

(Fuente: Red Internet en Bioenergía: bioenergia@sdnnic.org.ni)

Fuel-efficient stoves programme in Africa

Since charcoal is the fuel of choice for a large proportion of urban households in developing countries, its consumption is responsible for a great deal of deforestation. EnterpriseWorks Worldwide has a track record of mass dissemination of ceramic-lined stoves that use less charcoal, last longer and are safer than traditional charcoal stoves. In addition to the benefits of these stoves for the consumer and the environment, their manufacture and sale provide employment opportunities for small artisans. In combination with financial savings for low-income households from reduced charcoal use, this provides an effective means of poverty alleviation.

Fuel efficiency. The ceramic-lined metal stoves are approximately 40 percent more efficient than the traditional stoves commonly used in West Africa. In Senegal, for example, that means an average annual saving of 570 kg of charcoal per year, or 1.4 tonnes of charcoal saved over the two-and-a-half-year life of the typical stove.

Financial savings to households. In Senegal, where charcoal can cost, on average, US$0.19 per kg, annual savings amount to US$108 per stove per year. This is a significant saving in a country where the per caput GDP is US$550. The stove pays for itself in charcoal savings after three weeks of use. Over its life, a typical stove will save its owner US$270. The savings generally accrue to women, who then have that money disposable for other expenses related to children and household needs.

Reduced deforestation. At biomass densities commonly found in Sahelian dry woodlands, the charcoal used annually by a typical Senegalese family represents the amount of wood cleared from 0.10 ha of forest. Thus, every 1 000 conservation cookstoves will reduce the amount of deforestation by the equivalent of 46 ha.

Reduced carbon dioxide emissions. Charcoal combustion emits 3.01 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of charcoal, not including CO2 emissions during the production of charcoal from wood. Every 1 000 stoves in use, therefore, reduce CO2 emissions by 1 716 tonnes per year.

Employment creation. Blacksmiths using hand tools make the metal cladding of the stoves. Manual metalworking is among the lowest-paid trades, so income generated in this field has a greater impact than elsewhere. A productive blacksmith may turn out 625 stoves in a year, earning the equivalent of approximately US$880.

The ceramic liners are manufactured by medium-scale ceramics enterprises that may employ five to eight people and earn approximately US$1 890 for every 1 000 liners produced. Stove vendors, who typically earn approximately US$940 for every 1 000 stoves sold, perform the distribution and resale. These sales agents form the link between the manufacturers and the users of the stoves.

Sustainability. EnterpriseWorks approaches sustainability from a business perspective. The activities must serve a real need of the beneficiaries, who manifest their genuine interest in them by investing their own capital in the expectation of a greater return. Purchasing the technologies at the full unsubsidized price directly from local manufacturers or sales agents, without project intermediaries, ensures that both manufacturer and purchaser reap enough of a benefit to continue the activity beyond the life of the project.

In addition to the technology, three features of every EnterpriseWorks programme are essential to their success:

· Marketing. EnterpriseWorks places a heavy emphasis on marketing so that: a) potential clients are aware of the products and where to buy them; and b) profits from the sales of the technologies are significant enough to sustain their production over the long term, beyond the duration of the project that introduced them. Artisans are trained in marketing techniques and eventually assume responsibility for their own marketing.

· Quality control. Interaction between EnterpriseWorks and its collaborating artisans does not end at the close of training. Field staff make regular visits to the shops throughout the life of the project to monitor sales, identify any technical problems that arise, recommend additional training where appropriate and inspect the quality of the technologies being produced. More important, the field staff visit households where stoves have been bought and are in use, in order to ensure customer satisfaction. Permanent links are forged between manufacturers, retailers and the public.

· Economic impacts. In Mali, 16 000 stoves have been sold since 1997 and rates of sale have been accelerating as of March 1999. In Senegal, more than 50 000 stoves have been sold since 1992, which translates into US$13.5 million in consumer savings, US$330 000 in revenues to stove manufacturers and vendors and more than 9 000 ha of forest conserved. In Benin, a preliminary study has documented that the ceramic-lined stove is 39 percent more efficient than the models currently in common use.

For more information, please contact: Mme Kyeh Kim, EnterpriseWorks Worldwide, 1828 L Street NW, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20036, USA.
Fax: +1 202 293 4598;
E-mail: kimk@enterpriseworks.org

Household stoves and health

The adverse health impacts of stoves have been publicly acknowledged by FAO, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Energy Council (WEC), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and many other famous institutions. Their acknowledgement is based on results from extensive surveys and research by top-level scholars from universities such as Berkeley, Harvard, Stanford and Lund, as well as the East-West Center, the Asian Institute of Technology and Tata Energy Research Center, among others. Health effects have been reported at many conferences and published in a variety of international journals. For instance, it has been reported that in India half a million premature deaths are ascribed to indoor air pollution through pneumonia in young children, heart diseases, tuberculosis and chronic lung diseases.

FAO recently reported: "Numerous studies demonstrate a consistent positive correlation between exposure to smoke from indoor biomass burning and acute respiratory infection and chronic lung disease ... it is already clear that long-term exposure to biomass smoke elevates the risk of a child developing acute respiratory infection by 100 to 400 percent" (The challenge of rural energy poverty in developing countries, WEC/FAO, October 1999). From the same report: "Four to five million childhood deaths are attributed to acute respiratory infection every year. Eye infections, also linked to biomass smoke exposure, are on the top ten diseases as well."

In fact, in 1995 FAO had already referred to the health risks of household use of simple woodfuels. FAO stated that the incidence declined in areas where fuel-saving stoves and cleaner-burning woodfuels have been widely promoted (Forests, fuels and the future, FAO Forestry Department, Forestry Topics Report No. 5).

Acknowledging the problems is the first step in trying to help solve them. Various contributions are being given by international organizations, government organizations and NGOs. Among them is the Household Energy Development Organizations Network (HEDON). Their communications and networking activities aimed at trying to help the millions who suffer are commendable. It is heartening to learn from a personal observation that not all woodfuel users suffer from the adverse health risks quoted above. Such examples, however, cannot cancel out the scientific evidence about the existing adverse effects on millions of (other) people. Neither should the example discourage dedicated organizations from continuing their efforts to provide relief for the many people who suffer. (Contributed by: Mr Wim Hulscher, Regional Wood Energy Development Programme, FAO, Bangkok, Thailand.)



WOOD HEAT ORGANIZATION INC.

The Wood Heat Organization Inc. is a unique non-profit agency which was formed recently (October 1999) to provide reliable information about home heating with wood, to promote environmentally appropriate woodburning practices and to represent the public interest in woodburning issues.

"An organization with this mandate is long overdue," says John Gulland, executive director of the new group, which he and his colleagues call Woodheat for short. He points out that there are industry associations and some government agencies that have communicated with the public about wood heating, but there has never been a non-commercial, non-governmental organization with a mandate to help people use wood energy responsibly at home and to represent their interests in policy discussions.

The group stresses that wood energy is an effective home heating option that offers unsurpassed beauty and comfort and important environmental benefits. Still, it acknowledges that the environmental benefits are conditional on sustainable harvesting practices for the fuel and no visible smoke when it is burnt. According to president Bill Tully, "It is now possible to burn wood without smoke and one of our tasks is to teach people how."

Although the new organization has a number of programmes under way and in the planning stages, its main outlet for public information is its Internet site. The site has plenty of useful information for average wood burners: visitors can get practical advice on fuelwood preparation, installation safety and non-commercial advice on what makes for a successful wood heating system. It also offers technical and scientific information on the global carbon cycle, forest biodiversity and sustainable tree harvesting. One of the key functions of the site is to clarify the role of wood as a renewable energy resource. Various articles point out that using wood as a heating fuel is like living off the interest earned by the earth's assets, and never touching its savings. (Source: Red Internet en Bioenergía.)

For more information, please contact: The Wood Heat Organization Inc., 410 Bank Street, Suite 117, Ottawa K2P 1Y8, Canada.
E-mail: john@woodheat.org or cal@woodheat.org  or  bill@woodheat.org;
www.woodheat.org

The problem with land is that they stopped making it some time ago.

Mark Twain

 

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