Using invader bush as a source of fuel
Bush can add value to Namibia’s economy, and is not merely the nuisance that some farmers feel it is. Our bush resource is an essential source of food for browsers, and is used for fire wood and to produce charcoal. Utilising bush as an environmentally sustainable energy resource could create many new rural jobs and livelihood opportunities.
The energy content of Namibia’s bush-infested areas amounts to about 1,100 TWh, assuming a mere 10 tons of bushy biomass per bush-infested square hectare.The financial feasibility of small bush-to-electricity plants is marginal at most, but plants between 5 and 20 MW each may one day prove economically viable.
In a recent interview with the Economist, Robert Schultz from the Desert Research Foundation, an organisation that runs the 250kW biomass power plant near Outjo, the advantages of having biomass energy power plants is that it creates a form of energy development outside major towns which, in turn, creates economic opportunities in other areas.
“Reducing bush encroachment improves agricultural production. Coupled with decentralised power generation, you actually create more employment opportunities for every kilowatt-hour generated.” He said biomass power plants are also important as only 30% of the population has access to electricity.
As the need for electricity increases, most Namibian households can have the option to save between 5% and 20% of their normal electric energy consumption without a real loss in service levels or comfort. This can be achieved by merely applying a combination of different consumption behaviours, and using energy efficient appliances.
For example, increasing the set point of an air conditioner unit to only start cooling at a higher temperature, or washing clothes with cold water detergents instead of a hot water variety, using a washing line instead of a tumble dryer, and enabling the power saving options on electric and electronic devices all result in lower electricity bills.
Our very personal consumption habits and decisions matter a lot, and energy conscious behaviours are a key to save energy the smart way, and help the environment.