Government poised to tap into biomass technology

Mr Emmanuel Kofi Armah Buah, the Deputy Minister of Energy, has said the government would promote the production of more efficient biomass technologies and use of biomass in line with the National Renewal Energy Policy.

In furtherance of this move was the promulgation of the Renewable Energy Law in 2011 to give legal backing and policy direction for sustainable generation of bio-fuels, including bamboo.

Mr Buah, the Member of Parliament Ellembele, said this at a two-day Regional Steering Committee Conference of the European Union (EU)-International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) in Takoradi.

The conference attracted delegates from the piloting countries, which are Ghana and Ethiopia, Representatives of the EU, INBAR, academia, research institutions and allied agencies in the energy sector.

It was under the theme, “Bamboo as Sustainable Biomass Energy: A suitable Alternative for Charcoal and Charcoal Production in Africa.”

Mr Buah said Ghana, particularly the Western Region, is endowed with vast bamboo resources estimated between 400,000 and 450,000 hectares.

Establishing bamboo plantations, he said, would eventually increase the resource stock to meet future economic uses.

“In spite of its wide coverage, the utility level of bamboo s remains at the rudimentary level, attracting uses in traditional housing, low quality furniture, farm implements and fencing,” Mr Buah noted.

He said the government was represented through the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG) and the Bamboo and Rattan Development Programme (BARADEP) to make bamboo a sustainable alternative to energy generation and other resource material.

“Bamboo, the perfect biomass grass, grows naturally across Africa and presents a viable, cleaner and sustainable alternative to wood fuel,” said Dr. J. Coosje Hoogendoorn, Director General of INBAR.

“It also holds the key to combating soil degradation and massive deforestation on the continent. Without such an alternative, wood charcoal would remain the primary household energy source for decades to come with disastrous consequences,” she said

Dr Hoogendoorn said scientists predicted that the burning of wood fuel by African households would release the equivalent of 6.7 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by 2050, resulting in further effect on climate change through clearing of tropical forests, thus making bamboo a perfect alternative.

She said bamboo charcoal technology is being adapted to produce larger quantities of charcoal as well as to produce bamboo charcoal briquettes that are ideal for cooking because it burns longer, produces less smoke and air pollution.

Mr Daniel Essien, Ellembele District Chief Executive, pledged his administration’s partnership and support to the venture because, he said, it could create employment opportunities.

Nana Kwasi Kutuah V, Paramount Chief of Nkroful-Ellembele, appealed to INBAR to increase advocacy on the positive uses of bamboo and urged trainees under the project to form co-operatives to qualify them for soft loans.

China is a global leader in the production and use of bamboo charcoal. The sector is worth an estimated $1 billion a year and employs over 60,000 people in more than 1,000 businesses.

Source: GNA

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