Scholarly article on topic 'A Review of Biomass Energy Dependency in Tanzania'

A Review of Biomass Energy Dependency in Tanzania Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Mwema Felix, Shabbir H. Gheewala

Abstract This paper presents a review of biomass energy dependency in Tanzania. The study was conducted based on the available literature on energy and biomass in Tanzania. Energy is essential to meet the most basic needs: cooking, boiling water, lighting, and heating. It is also a prerequisite for good health, a reality that has been largely ignored by the world community. More than 80% of Tanzanians depend on biomass as a source of energy by burning firewood, dung, and other traditional fuels. Biomass use accounts for over 90% of total energy consumption. In recent years biomass energy activities mainly firewood wood and charcoal have increased dramatically and the rapid population growth of both urban and rural areas, however, has placed severe strain on the biomass resources, which has led to desertification and deforestation of some areas. This paper reveals that one way of economizing on firewood and charcoal use is to improve their production methods and the use of energy efficient stoves. In addition, the use of alternative energy sources such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and biogas reduces the frequent use of firewood and charcoal and consequently the burden on the forest resources.

Academic research paper on topic "A Review of Biomass Energy Dependency in Tanzania"

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Energy Procedia 9 (2011) 338 - 343

9th Eco-Energy and Materials Science and Engineering Symposium

A Review of Biomass Energy Dependency in Tanzania

Mwema Felixa'b* and Shabbir H. Gheewalaa,b

aThe Joint Graduate School of Energy and Environment, King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi, Bangkok 10140, Thailand bCentre of Energy Technology and Environment, Ministry of Education, Thailand

Abstract

This paper presents a review of biomass energy dependency in Tanzania. The study was conducted based on the available literature on energy and biomass in Tanzania. Energy is essential to meet the most basic needs: cooking, boiling water, lighting, and heating. It is also a prerequisite for good health, a reality that has been largely ignored by the world community. More than 80% of Tanzanians depend on biomass as a source of energy by burning firewood, dung, and other traditional fuels. Biomass use accounts for over 90% of total energy consumption. In recent years biomass energy activities mainly firewood wood and charcoal have increased dramatically and the rapid population growth of both urban and rural areas, however, has placed severe strain on the biomass resources, which has led to desertification and deforestation of some areas. This paper reveals that one way of economizing on firewood and charcoal use is to improve their production methods and the use of energy efficient stoves. In addition, the use of alternative energy sources such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and biogas reduces the frequent use of firewood and charcoal and consequently the burden on the forest resources.

© 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of CEO of Sustainable Energy System, Raj amangala University of Technolog y Thanyaburi (RMUTT).

Keywords: Biomass; Charcoal; Energy; Firewood; Tanzania.

1. Introduction

About 80% of Tanzanians live in villages (about 8,600 villages). The economy is mostly based on agriculture, which accounts for more than half (55-60%) of the gross domestic product (GDP) which was 280 US$ per capita in 2000. Topography and climatic conditions, however, limit cultivated crops to about

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +66-81-625-9860; fax: +66(2)-872-6978. E-mail address: mwemafelix@jgsee.kmutt.ac.th

1876-6102 © 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of CEO of Sustainable Energy System, Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi (RMUTT). doi: 10.1016/j.egypro.2011.09.036

37,803 km2 (in 2000) of the land area of which forests and woodland covers about 359,133 km2 of the total land area which is 945,087 km2.

Charcoal, firewood, dung, and other traditional fuels are the main energy sources in Tanzania. Its use is growing in absolute terms due to the increase in population. The major biomass energy consumers include charcoal and firewood for domestic use, tobacco production, brick making, and tea drying [1] -[4]. The majority of people in the rural areas suffer every day with difficulty in breathing, chronic respiratory diseases and stinging eyes. Young children and their mothers suffer the most and die because of indoor air pollution that comes from burning charcoal and firewood inside their homes.

The inefficient burning of solid fuels on an open fire or traditional stoves indoors creates a dangerous cocktail of hundreds of pollutants, primarily carbon monoxide and small particles, but also nitrogen oxides, benzene, butadiene, formaldehyde, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and many other health damaging chemicals. The problem of indoor air pollution has been around since the Stone Age, yet international development agendas still fail to recognize that missing out on clean energy equals missing out on life [1], [5].

The indoor air pollution and inefficient household energy practices are significant obstacles to the achievement of the millennium development goals. In addition, need for traditional biomass energy is a reason for the over exploitation of forests leading to deforestation [6] -[7] and consequently severe soil and land degradation through firewood extraction and cutting down of trees for charcoal production.

Tanzania's energy sector is characterized by a low per capita consumption of commercial energies such as kerosene, petroleum, and a large dependence on biomass energy in the form of firewood, charcoal and agricultural waste as well as human and animal waste. In 1990, the total biomass resource potential from the natural forests was 27 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) [4].

In 1991-1992, about 7% of the households in Tanzania had access to electricity, which increased to 8% in 1999 and 10% in 2000. Only about 1% of the households in rural areas had access to electricity whereas 27% of the households in urban areas had access to electricity [8].

The energy production in the year 2008 was about 17.47 Mtoe and the total primary energy supply (TPES) about 18.96 Mtoe [9]. The current electricity demand in Tanzania is about 900 MW. The energy demand of Tanzania is growing at the rate of 9-10% each year. The overall electricity production capacity is about 700 MW [9].

The energy balance of Tanzania shows that biomass use accounts for over 90% of energy consumption and it continues to dominate since it is the main source of energy used. Petroleum and electricity account for about 8% and 1.2% respectively [7]. The use of relatively expensive generation technology in isolated grids leads to relatively high costs for electricity supply to some of the households which is why most households prefer biomass energy over electricity. Since many places in the country are not connected to the national grid, therefore in some places kerosene is the most widely used fuel for lighting and increasing kerosene prices pose an additional burden on many rural households.

2. Goal and Scope of the Study

This paper presents a review of the biomass energy dependency in Tanzania. The study was conducted based on the available literature on energy and biomass in Tanzania. Sources of information ranged from organizational reports to scientific articles. Information and data obtained have been analyzed and interpreted to identify potential, status, and use of biomass energy in Tanzania.

3. Results and Discussions

Charcoal and firewood are the main biomass energy sources for most households in both rural and urban areas with an average charcoal consumption of 750,000 tonnes annually in the year 2000 [1] -[4]. In the year 2000, the local wood consumption for charcoal was 222.37 million m3, which was substantial for a population of about 33 million people and an average household size of 5 to 7 people as compared to firewood consumption of 55.5 million m3. The average charcoal consumption for each household was 30.05 m3 and firewood 7.5 m3 [3]. Charcoal is consumed by 94% of the households either alone or mixed with other fuels. About 6% of the households are estimated to not use charcoal. About 78% of households in Dar es Salaam city use charcoal as their first choice of energy source.

The use of cleaner fuels, such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and biogas reduces the frequent use of firewood and charcoal and consequently the burden on the forest resources by up to 20% but the use is negligible compared to the traditional energy sources. The use of energy efficient charcoal stoves in Tanzania is less due to their high initial installation cost that cannot be afforded by an average citizen. Energy efficient stoves for burning firewood and charcoal are not easily available in Tanzania due to the lack of government support and poor biomass energy policies. However, the government has made several efforts to promote the use of biomass energy through the establishment of rural energy agency (REA) but lack of seriousness, adequate data on the actual energy potential of these bio-energy resources as well as the lack of local capability to design and manufacture energy related equipment and spare parts are the major hindrance to the efforts [4].

The government has also formulated the National Energy Policy in April 1992, which was then revised in February 2003. The main objective of the revised National Energy Policy is; establishing efficient energy conversion, procurement, transportation, distribution, and end-use system in an environmentally sound manner. This is to be accomplished through exploitation of the abundant hydroelectric resources, development and utilization of natural gas and coal resources. Increased petroleum exploration activities and reducing deforestation through efficient wood fuel conversion by developing appropriate land management practices and more efficient wood fuel use technologies. The development and utilization of forest and agricultural residues for power and cooking energy production, minimization of energy price fluctuations, development of human resources for development of energy technologies and ensuring the continuity and security of energy supplies.

The mission of the revised National Energy Policy for the energy sector is to create situation for provision of safe, reliable, efficient, cost effective and environmentally compatible energy services on a sustainable basis to the widest cross section of the population.

Policy can sometimes be more effective on the private sectors than in individual homes by providing incentives to the private sectors to switch to energy efficient cooking stoves, or to embrace alternative and cleaner fuels such as LPG and biogas. These energy efficient cooking stoves can be imported from the developed countries that have advanced technologies. For example, Patsari stoves developed in Mexico have a fuel wood saving of 44-65% when compared to traditional open fire burning [10].

This study reveals that charcoal has a higher calorific value per unit weight than firewood, which is about 31.8 MJ per kg of completely carbonized charcoal with about 5% moisture content as compared to about 16 MJ per kg of firewood with about 15% moisture content on dry basis. Firewood has a low energy efficiency of 7-12 % and charcoal has energy efficiency of 11-19%. Due to its high calorific value per unit weight, charcoal is economic to transport over longer distances as compared to firewood. Its storage takes less space as compared to firewood and is not liable to deterioration by insects and fungi, which attacks firewood which is why it is suitable and mostly used by the majority. It is almost smokeless and sulphur free; as such, it is ideal fuel for towns and cities.

The indigenous production of commercial charcoal involves using of earth mound kilns. A basic earth kiln is the most common as it requires few specialized skills and no capital investment to use. The tools used in charcoal production include axes, machetes, hoes, shovels, forks and wooden levers, which are easily available to the majority of the households. Initial cost (investment cost) of tools is estimated to be 20 US$, approximately 30,000 Tanzanian shillings.

After felling trees, logs are crosscut into about 1-2 m long billets, piled into a stack, and then thatched with grass before plastering with earth, except for a small window through which fire is set. Basic earth kilns produce inferior charcoal due to their poor carbonization process with efficiency of about 11-25%. About 54% of the local households involve themselves in charcoal production as their main source of livelihood [3].

The process of making charcoal is labour intensive and mainly carried out by men although labour is shared during the process of collecting raw materials (felling of trees, crosscutting, pilling, stacking of logs, etc). The process of collecting raw materials requires high manual labour inputs. Initial activities require around 54 person-days per kiln. On average, a household of 5 people constructs 5 kilns per year with each kiln requiring about 10 ± 2 m3 of wet wood and having a mean production of about 1 ± 0.3 tonnes of charcoal, the equivalent of about 44 ± 9 bags of charcoal, each bag weighing around 35-40 kg. Under average conditions, 100 parts of wood yield about 60 parts charcoal by volume or 25 parts by weight [3].

A kiln with a capacity of about 1.5 tonnes of charcoal has an average of about 13, 10 and 14 days for woodcutting, kiln preparation and carbonization. The process of unloading charcoal from the kiln takes about 4 days. During carbonization, households may decide to prepare more kilns or engage themselves in other activities. As such, charcoal making households could have more than one kiln in a month. However, charcoal is produced throughout the year.

Once a fire has been established, the window is plugged with earth to ensure controlled partial carbonization of logs into charcoal. Firing begins at the bottom of the flue, and gradually spreads outwards and upwards. Wood becomes brown at 220°C, a deep brown-black after some time at 280°C, and an easily powdered mass at 310°C. The charcoal made at 300°C is brown, soft and friable, and readily inflames at 380°C. Success of the operation depends upon the rate of combustion [3].

Firewood is collected from both public and private land for commercial and own use. Most firewood users and suppliers are unaware of the ecological consequences of excessive firewood collection. It is often mistakenly seen as just 'cleaning up' the forest or keeping the farm tidy, and a part of good land management. Also, there is a general perception that deadwood is expendable [13].

Firewood collection is of concern in most areas because old and dead trees (often with hollows) and fallen timber are preferred sources of firewood, as these tend to burn well and produce less smoke. However, these same trees also provide crucial habitat and food, nesting hollows, perching places and forage substrate for birds and mammals [13].

The over-reliance on charcoal, and the excessive use of firewood are the major causes of deforestation and land degradation; about 91,000 hectares of land annually [3]. In 2002, charcoal production was responsible for degradation of 29,268 hectares (24.6%) of closed woodland and deforestation of 23,308 hectares (19.58%) of closed woodland and 92,761 hectares (50.8%) of open woodland in the catchment area to the west and north of Dar es Salaam that supplied charcoal to Dar es Salaam city. The cutting down of trees without sufficient reforestation has resulted in damage to habitat to the living organism, biodiversity loss and aridity [13]. In Tanzania mainland, the land area covered by forest has decreased from 46% in 1990 to 41% and 37.5% in 2000 and 2005 respectively of the total land area covered by land which was 883.6 km2 in 2001 [8].

The deforested land has often degraded into wastelands. The habitat for flora and fauna has been destroyed affecting particularly the vulnerable species of both plants and animals as the harvested trees

were their form of homes, their natural world, their mine for food and their shelter from opponents. The water table levels have decreased and the water cycle has been affected [5]-[7]. About 1,670 hectares of land was cleared in the year 2000, which is about 13% of the surrounding easily accessible communal woodlands in the area 5-10 km settlements along the Dar es Salaam-Morogoro highway, which was estimated to cover about 13,350 hectares.

This study reveals that in 2002-2003, 15.7%, 0.3%, 82.1%, and 0.2% of the households in Dar es Salaam city (with a population of 2,373,840 people and 596,264 households) used charcoal, electricity, firewood, and solar as their main sources of energy for cooking. Only 1.6% of the households used other sources [12], [14]. In 2002, 77.36%, 16.66%, 0.94%, and 0.13% of the households in Tanzania (with a population of 34,901,627 people and 6,996,036 households) used firewood, charcoal, electricity, and gas respectively as their main sources of energy for cooking. Only 0.48% of the households used other sources of energy for cooking. 4.86% and 10.12% of the households used firewood and electricity as their main sources of energy for lighting [8], [12], [14].

This study reveals that one way of economizing on wood fuel use is to improve charcoal production methods. Therefore, there is a need for the charcoal producers to employ improved earth kilns that will increase the yield and quality of charcoal produced. There are currently two known improved kiln efficiency projects in Tanzania, the half orange brick kiln and the improved earth mound kiln. The average carbonization efficiency of these improved charcoal technologies is estimated to be 27-35% while traditional ways of making charcoal have efficiencies of 11-25%.

This study suggests that the government need to emphasize the use of energy efficient charcoal and firewood stoves for cooking and the use of mixed fuel like liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and biogas to reduce the burden on forests. The focus should be first on Dar es Salaam, a city whose charcoal demand is high [5]-[6].

This study reveals that charcoal and firewood cannot be replaced completely and will continue to be the primary energy sources for many households and will continue to dominate the energy sector in both the short and long term perspectives. Therefore, the government must emphasize that charcoal and firewood should be produced from the sustainably managed plantations and to take immediate actions over the illegal harvesting of forest resources. Proper policies need to be proposed to reduce the possibility of forest loss. Policies should aim at protecting forests in reserves by ensuring that main source of wood for charcoal production and firewood should come from the sustainably managed forests [1], [7], [11].

The government should put effort into appropriate energy and environmental policies to intervene in the current energy demand, energy production technologies, energy supply, and the environment in order to safeguard forest resources by formulating policies accompanied by appropriate initiatives to increase forestry resources through afforestation, reforestation, agro-forestry and improved forestry management efforts [4].

4. Conclusion

The commercialization of wood resources provides tangible monetary benefits to both rural and urban communities, but it also contributes to resource depletion that will ultimately threaten the country's short and long term survival.

Simply, if forests are destroyed wholly, all forms of biodiversity will be adversely affected. Beyond a certain point, these effects will be largely irreversible. Furthermore, if these places are completely destroyed, the prospect to explore other probabilities would be lost forever. The effects of deforestation

on the coming generations are huge; thus, the preservation and the protection against extinction of many species are needed in Tanzania with many opportunities open for the forthcoming generation.

The study suggests that there is a need for encouraging a sustainable firewood and charcoal industry in Tanzania because it has the potential to deliver a number of benefits in addition to the conservation of biodiversity. Compared to other fuel options (e.g. electricity, gas, and heavy oil), firewood and charcoal can be managed as renewable resources and provide associated greenhouse gases and dry land salinity benefits and may create national economic and job opportunities.

Acknowledgements

The financial support provided by the JGSEE is gratefully acknowledged.

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