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Renewable energies

Biomass


Young African woman carrying a pile of wood on her head is standing in front of a road sign. Copyright: BMZBiomass has been used as a fuel since time immemorial, and remains the most important source of renew­able energy to this day. More than two billion people use firewood and char­coal for cooking and heating. In the sub-Saharan African countries almost 90 per cent of the population are dependent on these fuels. For them, biomass is the only source of energy.

The great advantage of biomass over fossil fuels is that it is consi­dered emission-neutral.

The traditional use of biomass also involves problems, however. Its energy content is usually harnessed only very inefficiently. This makes the fuel requirement very high, which exacerbates defore­sta­tion. Furthermore, open hearths in huts are extremely harmful to health.

The German government therefore promotes among other things conversion to small biogas plants, wood-fired ovens or vegetable oil stoves. These burn biomass in a more environmentally friendly and healthy way, and utilise the energy very efficiently. In sub-Saharan Africa the BMZ is supporting the Biomass Energy Conservation Programme (ProBEC). In cooperation with governmental institutions and small local producers, simple clay and metal stoves that consume up to 90 per cent less firewood are being manufactured locally.

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