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Europe may get more African biomass

Oct. 8, 2010, London, UK – London, UK-based biomass producer Africa Renewables is looking to supply European utilities with wood chips from West Africa.


October 8, 2010
By Argus Media

Oct. 8,
2010, London, UK – London, UK-based biomass producer Africa Renewables is looking
to supply European utilities with wood chips from West Africa. The newly formed
start-up is finalizing the development of logistical chains able to produce
200,000 tonnes/year of wood chips from rubber trees in Ghana and Ivory Coast.
The biomass will be extracted from trees that have reached the end of their
life cycle in 3,000 km² of plantations from one of the leading agricultural
industry firms in West Africa.

“For a
local farmer or even an agricultural industrial planter, felling trees every 25
years is essential if you want revenue from rubber production to continue
flowing,” Africa Renewables managing director Jean-Francois Guillon says. “At
the moment, at the end of their productive life, the rubber trees are abandoned
or simply felled and burned to allow replanting. The economic potential of this
biomass is ignored, but we are setting up the local infrastructure and
extraction process required for the export of this biomass in the form of wood
chips.”

The
company expects its first shipments to originate from Ghana and Ivory Coast
early next year. Guillon does not disclose the name of the plantation owner.
“We expect 120,000 tonnes of wood chips to come from Takoradi with moisture
content of around 25% (14 GJ/tonne). We are speaking to European utilities
about supply deals, but we believe the benchmark price for wood chip producers
needs to be higher, at around €80-85/tonne.” Prices are currently discussed at
around €70-75/tonne CIF northwest Europe.

Geneva-based
biomass developer and supplier Buchanan Renewables developed similar wood chip
production from Liberia last year and already exports regularly to European
utilities. Buchanan targets an ambitious 2 million tonnes/year of exports, with
the help of Swedish state-owned utility Vattenfall, which acquired a 20% stake
in the company earlier this year.

Africa
Renewables expects to meet European sustainability standards. A company
spokesperson says that discussions with European buyers are at an early stage,
but that production is expected to start in January 2011.

Please visit ArgusMedia.com for more information.

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