By Business Reporter
THE Centre for Management Technology (CMT), which is organising the Biomass Trade & BioEnergy Africa Conference, which takes place in Johannesburg from 28 to 29 September, says that attendees will be able to explore various opportunities, including gaining insight into biomass power projects in Namibia.
The conference will be held at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Sandton.
“Attendees will further discover how processing facilities have developed zero waste operations, and learn about updates to the regulatory framework and opportunities on biogas projects,” organisers said.
The CMT noted that Namibia’s national power utility, Nampower, announced bold plans to construct up to ten biomass power plants (from 10MW to 100MW) in May.
According to the utility, the bush biomass resources will be locally sourced, and supplied to the power plants by commercial farmers.
The conference will consist of speeches and presentations by a variety of industry stakeholders, including biomass carbonisation technology leaders, biomass export market analysts and power utility and financial institution representatives.
The CMT hopes that the conference will further the development of the African biomass and bioenergy industries.
The conference is a place where stakeholders from the renewable energy sector – including regulatory, project development, technology and financing experts – can gather to learn from one another, while exploring opportunities and networking.
“While solar and wind renewable power have garnered much greater interest – partially owing to the returns and benefits of these energy sources – biomass and bioenergy can enable a balanced and diverse energy approach. In turn, this will provide adequate power output for major cities and industries, and rural electrification, at greater affordability and minimal environmental impact.
“Africa has an abundance of agricultural resources that can be [used] efficiently and cost-effectively in the bioenergy value chain. From biomass cofiring, dedicated biopower, biogas and biofuels, Europe, the Americas and Asia have exhibited sustainable case studies, which Africa can pick up from,” the CMT said.
Although the bioenergy sector is still at a nascent stage, export opportunities of African biomass, wood chip, wood pellets and palm kernel shells, to Europe and North Asia, are currently being explored.
The CMT added that with the growing number of renewable energy projects in Africa, financiers and investors are relatively cautious and selective, when evaluating project bankability, as projects must be sustainably developed, operated and maintained, to offer a solid return.
The Sandton conference will include two days of networking and its associated benefits, face-to-face interactions with representatives from regional power utilities, independent power producers, biogas project developers and industrial boilers from the African region.
The CMT noted that there has been growing regional interest in the implementation of biomass power, biogas and biofuels projects.
A commercial farm in Naivasha, Kenya currently hosts a biogas plant, as part of a larger renewable energy project – the Gorge Farm Energy Park. The plant’s anaerobic digester produces biogas, which is used to generate electricity. The electricity is used to power the farm’s operations, with the surplus being sold to the national grid.
According to a recent media article, the plant also generates heat for the farm’s greenhouses, with fertiliser as a by-product. The Gorge Farm is owned by vegetable producer and exporter, the Vegpro Group. This project was launched in August 2015, with the biogas component – which is a solar/biogas plant – becoming operational in February.
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