This paper provides a preliminary examination of present and projected land use in Africa to estimate the potential availability of land in 2025 for use in producing biomass energy. Fifty countries are included in the analysis. Future cropland requirements are projected on the basis of average African cereal crop yield improvements since 1972, and minimum nutritional requirements are assumed to be met in 2025 without increasing imports above present absolute levels. Cropland, natural forests and other wilderness areas are excluded from consideration for biomass energy use. Woody biomass energy yields are estimated on the basis of nationally averaged precipitation, using a yield precipitation correlation for commercial eucalyptus plantations in Brazil. The total African bioenergy production potential in 2025 is estimated to be about 18 EJ per year for a set of baseline assumptions that includes planting only 10% of the available non-crop, non-forest, non-wilderness area with biomass energy crops. A preliminary cost assessment suggests that much of this biomass could be produced for $1-2 GJ-1. A number of uncertainties in the modelling assumptions are examined through a sensitivity analysis. Despite limitations in the model used here, one robust conclusion is that Africa as a whole has a significant biophysical potential for producing biomass energy. This result suggests that more detailed country and sub-country level assessments would be worthwhile to understand better the practical prospects for future biomass energy production in Africa.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Agronomy and Crop Science
- Waste Management and Disposal
- energy plantations