Bush-to-Energy – Perspectives for Namibia
Encroacher bush is an abundant biomass resource and particularly valuable as renewable fuel. It has been calculated that the annual re-growth of encroacher bush only would be able to cover the entire current electrical energy needs of Namibia – without even bush thinning. At the same time the use of encroacher bush for energy applications has the potential to trigger large scale bush thinning programs with a real impact on bush encroached farmland. Encroacher bush can be used on different levels:
1 – Power generation from biomass in 5- 20 MW biomass power plants will provide decentralised solutions and help diversifying the national energy supply based on domestic resources. The latest Namibia Integrated Resource Management Plan (NIRP) quantifies the potential of encroacher bush fuel to amount to 14o MW or approx. 20 % of national power demand.
2 – In industrial applications biomass supplies industries with thermal energy (steam) and helps substituting imported fossil fuels such as heavy oil or diesel. Currently biomass boilers are used by Ohorongo Cement in Otavi as well as by the Namibia Breweries in Windhoek. There are ample additional opportunities e.g. in the abattoirs and the fish processing factories.
3 – Biomass fuel is also ideally suited to cater for off-grid energy supply solutions and to provide energy on household level. The first could boost rural electrification that currently is around 30 % only while the latter could help saving considerably on fuel expenditure such as firewood and/or gas.
Interesting reading include these studies and policies (links):