Our month 18 consortium meeting was recently held on the 22nd and 23rd March at the CCF offices near Otjiwarongo in Namibia. Representatives from the fifteen partner organisations had the opportunity to view the intergrated SteamBioAfrica demonstration unit in its later stages of commissioning. The hybrid format of the meeting also allowed for remote participation within sessions.
Wider stakeholder engagement meetings and trial training workshops were also held over the course of the week.
Prior to day 1, the team from Skogforsk gave a presentation on forestry logistics in Sweden and some inputs to relate to the harvesting of encroached bush savannahs of Southern Africa.
Meeting Day 1
Members of consoritium were given a site tour of the biomass processing plant and the health and safety protocols in implemented. Remote monitoring facilities were also shown which will enable assessments and actions to be undertaken remotely by the SBL team.
Thereafter, the different work package teams convened to discussed issues ranging from the plant's commissioning and operation; including the necessary harvesting & transportation permits as well as CCF's FSC certification, both of which are currently in place.
Greater legislative understanding was called for with regards to the 3 African coutries involved (Namibia, Botswana and SA) and for a land management report to be compiled.
Demand from industrial users for trial material was confirmed and solutions on how to harmonise the experimental process to suit their needs, without disrupting plant operation parameters, were also tabelled. Examining consumer market placement trials and experimental variants were also key subjects discussed.
Evenor commenced discussions with a focus on monitoring carbon sequestration with land use change at a country level, as well as bi-lateral discourse with other parties to identify key research areas. The CSIC team alluded to this by saying they will be centering their research on areas selected to supply material to the plant pre and post-harvest.
BITRI added that the roles of policy makers and understanding the competitors will also assit in the mapping process, with the former usually following after industry practices become standardised. Participants also agreed that existing fuels, their properties and costs, should be considered and all factor in to ensuring the longterm viability of this project.
On the life cycle aspect, SLU and NUST showed the entire value chain process from harvest to final use, and contrasted the positive and negative effects against those of existing alternatives. Carbon Capital suggested building on and supporting current SMEs and their respective places in the supply chain.
Minimal wastage and a "cradle to grave" outlook at each stage of the product's life cycle was encouraged and the setting of study boundaries, to avoid overconfusion.
Mr Colin Lindeque of Carbon Capital discussed the two key elements of WP12; Exploitation and Dissemination. For exploitation, plans for off-take agreements with stakeholders and potential co-products will aid in presenting a case for new investment. Identifying priority sites and "low hanging fruit" opportunities would also feed into developing a viable business plan, and potentially access to "green financing".
In conclusion, an invited guest from John Thompson Ltd SA, Mr Eddie Verwey, gave an informative presentation on boilers and the issues related to moving from coal to solid biofuel as the fuel of preference.
Furtermore, the GESI team had an interactive talk on the social inclusion and gender aspects which need to be fully incorporated within value chain development.
Following some praise to CCF's staff for hosting the symposium, it was agreed that the following month 24 project review meeting will coordinate with the Namibia Biomass Fair, and take place in Windhoek on the 12th - 13th September 2023.
Prior to the Biomass Fair, we also intend to both present (SLU) and have a stand (SBL) at EUBCE 23 in Bologna, Italy from the 5 - 8 June 2023. EUBCE is the largest biomass conference and exhibition in the world, with the aim of accelerating research and market uptake across the globe.
Photo above: Representatives from the 15 partner institutions posing on site at CCF's Biomass Technology Demonstration Site. Seen in the background, is the intergrated biomass processing unit.
Photo above: The vibrating table which screens the raw feed material, prior to it going up the conveyor belt and into the main heating chamber for processing.
Photo above: The plant is powered by renewable energy in the form of an array of solar panels with an intergrated battery storage system for a continuous 24/7 power supply. Next to the panel array, is the control room which houses the plant's management systems and data storage center for post assessments to be done.