Bamboo is “best source” of biomass, say experts


Bamboo is the best source of biomass, according to experts.

As people become more aware of the environmental concerns facing the planet, biomass is an increasingly popular source of renewable energy.  Producing products such as green charcoal, energy pellets and activated carbon, biomass, derived from a variety of sources, can be grown and harvested sustainably and burned efficiently to generate heat and / or electricity.   

According to recent RISI and North American Bioenergy studies, it is anticipated that global demand for biomass will double within 2 years alone and within 5 years reach 37 million dry tonnes per year in Europe and 20 million dry tonnes in the USA. By 2020, the demand for biomass in Europe should reach 243 million dry tonnes with more than 77% of the overall demand coming from the energy sector.

Outside of the major Western markets, demand for biomass is also increasing and changing in the nature of its supply. In South Africa alone, which is highly coal dependant, there is a rapid movement towards the use of biomass for heat and power. Today 10.7% of primary energy demand in the nation comes from renewable sources but carbon reduction targets and economic need are driving the renewable energy sector towards a likely contribution of 47.8% of all primary energy needs by 2050.

Where can those looking for ethical investments to support this move towards biomass turn? Bamboo, says alternative investment agency EcoInvestments.

"Bamboo is an excellent base material for the production of 'green charcoal' or 'bio char'. One species in particular, Bambusa balcooa has a higher calorific value when used in charcoal than many traditional wood sources and performs excellently when used as activated carbon, a material widely used in water filtration and air conditioning systems. It truly is a super-material," comments spokesperson Marcus Vassiliou.

Building upon the success that their partners enjoyed in Nicaragua in becoming the world's largest owner and operator of commercial bamboo plantations outside of China, EcoPlanet Bamboo Southern Africa has undertaken thorough due diligence over the past 18 months to ensure that the optimum location has been secured to grow bamboo for biomass. 

Fully appreciating the vast potential of renewable forestry as a source of biomass and the rapidly rising demand not only in South Africa itself but globally too, EcoInvestments has worked with highly experienced partners on the ground.

The plots, which are already "thriving", will be harvested sustainably upon maturity to produce biomass which will be sold to the energy market, anticipating 22.6% annualized yields and 226% ROI forecast.