The University of Science and Technology in collaboration with the Institute for Applied Material Flow Management (IfaS) of the University of Trier, Germany, recently concluded a 10 days pre-feasibility assignment for the development of a biomass hub concept to create added value from encroacher bush. The travelling university consisted of 16 post-graduate students (Masters and Honours Level) as well as undergraduate students from both universities. The participants are trained in material flow management, renewable energy, energy efficiency, environmental economics, mechanical engineering, applied chemistry, finance and rangeland science.
The assignment forms part of the government’s broader effort to provide practical and business-driven solutions to the increasing challenge of bush encroachment. So-called biomass hubs can play a crucial role in creating synergies between various bush based value chains and for example serve as basis for supply to major off-takers, such as biomass power plants.
Intensive field work formed the basis of the assignment through the assessment of two potential sites, near the Ohorongo Cement Plant in the Otavi vicinity and at Otjikoto sub-station at Tsumeb. Selected stakeholders from both private and public sectors participated in the assignment, including local municipalities. The students worked on three different aspects: material flow management, technology and economic analysis of the potential biomass hub. Preliminary findings were presented in Windhoek on 25 April along with representation of industry, government, parastatals and private sector organisations.
Preliminary findings indicate that there is huge international market demand for bush-based products. Charcoal, woodchips, briquettes, biochar and wood plastic composites are among the high value products while local potential include woodchips and bush fodder for livestock. Woodchips are already being utilised by some of Namibia’s industrial players, such as Ohorongo Cement and the O&L Namibian Breweries, while bush based animal fodder is used by pioneering farmers as emergency fodder especially during the dry seasons. The assignment was supported by the Bush Control and Biomass Utilisation Project (BCBU) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The aim of the MAWF/GIZ Bush Control and Biomass Utilisation Project is to enhance current bush control measures and introduce sustainable means for bush utilisation by testing innovating value chains and climate-friendly technologies.
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