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Developing nations yet to fully tap biomass energy – Guyana says ethanol production still on the cards

Developing nations have an untapped resource – bio-mass fuels – that could enable them to fight poverty, gain energy independence, and adapt to climate change, says a new report from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). Guyana says that the production of ethanol, a bio-fuel, is still very much high on the agenda.
The report urges developing nations to take advantage of their dependence on biomass fuels — such as wood and charcoal — and move towards green economies in which the poor benefit from producing sustainable, clean energy.
It points out that reliance on biomass fuels is set to treble from 10 to 30 per cent of global energy consumption by 2050. Advanced new technologies can convert wood to liquid and gaseous fuel, or produce wood bundles or pellets that can be ‘gasified’ to make electricity.
According to the IIED, while developed nations are taking this seriously, developing nations generally lag behind, and treat biomass fuels as traditional and dirty health hazards, which are poverty trap and threat to forests. But the report shows how they can turn their already heavy biomass dependence into an advantage.
Highly flexible
Biomass energy is highly flexible and can be readily converted into all the major energy forms (heat, electricity, and gas). This means it can meet diverse energy needs: from powering irrigation pumps and agricultural processing, and providing illumination and refrigeration to powering transport and telecommunications.
The report shows that if nations manage their forests and ensure replanting happens in a way that is sensitive to food security needs, biomass can be a renewable and sustainable source of energy. Biomass also produces lower emissions of greenhouse gases than fossil fuels. As biomass energy is labour intensive across the whole supply chain, it can offer employment options to reduce poverty, while the potential health hazards can be easily solved by better processing and stove technologies.
The report outlines ways for developing nations to enact policies to capitalise on the potential for biomass fuels to tackle climate change and poverty, and create energy security, jobs and sustainable economies.
Local efforts
Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud, in an invited comment, said government remains committed in its efforts to limit the adverse effects of climate change, which is evident with the president’s promotion of the Low Carbon Development Strategy.
Principal among these wide-ranging efforts is the government’s push for the sustainability of alternative energy sources in Guyana. “Having recognised that there is need to seriously address the adverse effects of climate change, Guyana drafted an “Agro-energy Portfolio – A Strategic Framework for Implementation” document,” the agriculture minister disclosed. According to him, this document’s ultimate goal is to provide a roadmap for the development of a competitive and sustainable agro-energy sector in Guyana.
Guyana also partnered with the Caribbean Renewable Energy Development Programme (CREDP), the Inter-American Development Bank, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA), and the Organisation of American States (OAS) in organising a high-level seminar on bio-fuels in August 2007.
According to him, Guyana is still in talks with several investors from Brazil, the United States of America and the Caribbean for the production of ethanol in the Canje Basin.
The plan is to use 20,000 hectares of land in Canje, Berbice about 70 miles east of the capital to plant special varieties of sugarcane.

Category/ies:Guyana News.
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