Towards a Bioenergy Atlas of Africa (source GEO newsletter #12)
At a time of rapidly rising world energy demand and high oil prices, the production and use of bioenergy has entered a new era of global growth. Africa, with its warm climate, and abundant natural resources, including large amounts of unused fertile land, has the potential to become an important player in the production of bioenergy. However, efforts to exploit this potential face several challenges. A major technical barrier is the lack of accurate and well-organized data on renewable energy resources, such as biomass data as they relate to land and water availability, competing uses, and processing.
In response to this challenge, GEO and the European Commission FP7 funded Project EnerGEO jointly organized a workshop entitled “Towards a Bioenergy Atlas of Africa” during the 8th Conference of the African Association of Remote Sensing of the Environment (AARSE), which was held in October in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Aimed at experts in energy planning, remote sensing, geoinformatics, and related fields from Africa and abroad, the workshop sought to compile an inventory of on-going bioenergy-related initiatives in Africa and to draft a project plan for developing an atlas of bioenergy resources for the continent.
The term “bioenergy” includes energy derived from dedicated crops, agricultural and forestry residues, animal wastes, and biogas. The “Bioenergy Atlas of Africa” will combine layers of data (land-use, hydrology, soils, demography, infrastructures, etc) with analysis tools.
The goal is to allow planners to visualize existing and potential bioenergy resources, and to determine which technologies are viable solutions at national or regional scales. It will enable policy-makers and other stakeholders to visualize which initiatives hold the greatest potential over time and what their potential effects may be on the continent’s sustainability.
This initiative is supported South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Nairobi-based Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD). It will be proposed as a new Task in the GEO Work Plan for 2012-15. To contribute to this initiative or to learn more about it, please contact Humbulani Mudau at the GEO Secretariat or Peter Zeil.
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