South African biomass energy: little heeded but much needed
South Africa badly needs more energy. Heavy reliance on large-scale coal and a centralised grid is no solution, especially given agreed Long Term Mitigation Scenarios. The largest renewable energy source is biomass energy but mostly in the form of wood fuel for cooking and heating. Two modern attempts to develop South Africa’s biomass energy potential — the Howick wood pellet plant, and the Tstsikamma biomass plant — failed. But only just, and this was mostly due to local market conditions and stand-offs in agreeing purchase agreements with Eskom (the public energy provider), not insuperable technological difficulties. More coherent incentives for domestic biomass energy market development within South Africa are needed, both for more efficient wood pellet stoves and also for biomass electricity, if South African citizens, and particularly its poorer communities, are to have secure access to energy.