South Africa’s first Bio-atlas launched


South Africa’s first Bioenergy Atlas, launched by the Department of Science and Technology, has been welcomed by stakeholders as a critical resource in moving the country towards a low-carbon economy.

Aimed at assisting government in its efforts to increase the national energy resources, the Bioenergy Atlas indicates the potential of biomass as sources of alternative energy in the country, their geographic spread, proximity to infrastructure and potential end users.

The atlas guides biomass availability in the country, such as feedstock, organic waste, a mix of agricultural and forestry residue, and how this can be turned into alternative energy in the country. Biomass power is carbon neutral electricity generated from renewable organic waste that would otherwise be dumped in landfills, openly burned or left as fodder for forest fires.

Certain areas in the country are better for this kind of energy generation and the atlas points this out. In provinces like Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal Limpopo, thousands of people can benefit from job creation opportunities in the cultivation or harvesting sectors.

The atlas was developed as a result of extensive research by the South African Earth Observation Network (SAEON), which is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The Bioenergy Atlas indicated that the country’s potential in bioenergy was higher than initially thought.

The Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor said that the lack of capacity and limited access to data at different spheres of government contributed to the delayed uptake of bioenergy in South Africa.

The Atlas and the portal provide policy makers with a way to address this and facilitates local and provincial government plans to exploit bioenergy resource opportunities. The web-based tool, supplemented by online and printed reports, will also help to attract potential investors into the emerging bioenergy sector.

Thomas Garner, CEO of independent power producer, Cennergi, hailed the Bio-Energy Atlas, as a next step in South Africa’s transformation to a low carbon, renewable energy future, together with the Wind Energy Atlas, the Carbon Sinks Atlas and the Renewable Energy Toolkit to guide project development.

Contact Veronica Mohapeloa, Department of Science and Technology, Tel 083 400-5750,

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Source: EE plublishers

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