Namibia’s participation at 19th Congress of Wood Energy in Germany

Namibia presented itself as a prospective partner country at this year’s Wood Energy Conference in Würzburg, Germany. The congress themed “sustainable solutions for climate protection” is the national get-together of the German “biomass scene”. With 250 entrepreneurial participants it is thus an ideal opportunity for networking and business to business meetings. A dedicated programme on Namibia’s “big biomass opportunity” provided for key note presentations and information stalls.

“Germany has taken the political decision to stop burning coal. Bush biomass from Namibia clearly has the potential to play a role in the biomass import sector – competiveness and sustainability of production and supply provided. Investment decisions are expected to be taken within the next 3 to 5 years,” says Matthias Held, Managing Director, German Wood Energy Association. “Participating in this congress was a success for the Namibian biomass sector. We promoted the Namibian case and linked to relevant players in Germany,” Joseph Hailwa, Director of Forestry, Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry comments.

The delegation from Namibia comprised of government officials from the National Planning Commission, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and SME Development, experts on environmental issues, researchers and sector representatives including from the Namibian Charcoal Association (NCA), the Walvis Bay Corridor Group and the Namibian Biomass Industry Group (N-BiG). The delegation visit was facilitated by the GIZ project on bush control and biomass utilisation (BCBU). Participants explored options based on a two-fold and complementary approach: large-scale international off-take opportunities as well as technology solutions for application in Namibia.

More than 30 million hectares of rangeland are considered to be bush encroached in Namibia. This is a third of the country. It is estimated that 300 million tonnes of biomass are available for sustainable harvest within the scope of rangeland restoration. The Namibian Biomass Industry Group (N-BiG) points out that currently only 1.36 million tonnes per year of bush biomass are utilised and that harvesting and logistic structures need to be up-scaled significantly to utilise the socio-economic and ecological benefits.

The German city of Hamburg plans to phase-out coal combustion in the medium term. The political motivation is to contribute to the national climate protection goals of the Federal German Government and to the Paris Agreement. Biomass represents a potential pathway to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, there is an undersupply of biomass in Germany, which requires off-takers to source internationally. “It has been very interesting to engage with the civil society initiative of “Exit Coal” (“Tschüss Kohle”) in Hamburg and with large energy utilities,” says Angus Middleton, Executive Director, Namibia Nature Foundation. “The meetings were tough, professional and serious. We now know what we have to do as “homework” for a next step.”

In connection with up-scaling technology solutions for application in Namibia, a number of processing options were discussed, including wood chip-based heating/cooling for residential areas and possibilities to combine solar and biomass technologies. The delegation further explored options of cooperation with a sophisticated research and development network. It is envisioned to establish a Namibian Biomass Research Centre. Deliberations were held with a research institution of the German State of Baden Württemberg regarding options for scientific cooperation, with special emphasis on bio-economy, material research and knowledge transfer.

“The trip was extremely interesting,” Ned Sibeya, Deputy Chief National Planning Commission points out. “We can see immediate benefits particularly for the private sector delegates from N-BiG and NCA. We see great interest from potential German business and technology partners.” Delegation members complimented the international network comprised of GIZ, the Institute for Applied Material Flow Management (IfaS) of the Trier University and the Namibian Embassy Berlin for developing support structures for Namibian biomass.

More information (in German) at www.fachverband-holzenergie.de.

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