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South Africa: Bio-energy has a place in the energy mix

South Africa’s successful uptake of renewable energy resources has seen operational projects comprising mainly of wind and solar energy, leaving bio-energy in the cold.

But according to Crescent Mushwana, the lead researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), not all hope is lost for this clean energy technology.

“Bio-energy seems to be lagging behind because there is no proper mapping of the resources in sub-Saharan Africa but in South Africa that exercise has been completed,” Mushwana explained.

Mushwana and his team collaborated on a bio-energy atlas for South Africa, which was unveiled March 2017, to map out its potential.

He admits that the resource is unlikely to provide bulk power; however, the CSIR specialist says it could be used as a backup resource during special times such peak hours.

Mushwana also highlights that bio-energy can help to preserve the environment, “in sub-Saharan Africa we know that there is a lot of waste that is being produced and that waste just goes into dumping sites and it’s not sustainable.

“So bio-energy can help us environmentally and produce electricity.”

Technologies associated with bio-energy

When asked about the kind of technologies that can be used to reap the benefits that this resource presents, he said: “the generators that we will be looking at are called flexible generators, which are able to switch in and out as fast as possible; as and when they are required to operate.”

Apart from the energy sector, Mushwana says this clean energy resource can also be used for jet fuel in the future.

Watch the full interview below.

Find the BioEnergy Atlas here.

Babalwa Bungane
Babalwa Bungane is the content producer for ESI Africa - Clarion Events Africa. Babalwa has been writing for the publication for over five years. She also contributes to sister publications; Smart Energy International and Power Engineering International. Babalwa is a social media enthusiast.