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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

EAC states await new standards on biofuel

6th November 2012

The new international standard for bioenergy is to become operational come 2014 and will be in effect across East Africa, the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) has confirmed.

Speaking yesterday in Dar es Salaam soon after opening a three-day workshop for EAC standardization, TBS acting Director General Dominic Mwakangale, revealed that, at the moment the bureau is in the very final stages of compiling the proposed standards.

The workshop, supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) through Swedish Standards Institute (SIS) has attracted over 40 participants from Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

“We have reached a good stage, after today’s workshop, we will convene another plenary meeting next year in Australia…” explained the director who went on to clarify that in the meeting to be held in the infamous Outback Australia, there will be in attendance officials on bio-standards from across the world and they will offer their own recommendations on the proposed East African bioenergy standards.

Already, similar workshops have been held in Rwanda, Germany, Kenya and United States of America.

Mwakangale, said the Australia workshop will come up with the final bioenergy ISO 13065 draft that will then be sent back to stakeholders for their last recommendations before actual implementation.

“We hope that all the processes are completed within the next two years so that we may move on to implementation by 2014…,” he stressed and insisted that the new standards will help Tanzania and the rest of East Africa to improve their livelihood.

“We expect that the price of fuel would go down and there would be a variety of alternative energy …” he expounded on the benefits adding that biofuels have emerged as a form of alternative fuel with the potential to replace finite fossil fuel resources.

In Tanzania liquid biofuel (biodiesel and bioethanol) developments are at an infancy stage and there is so far no commercial liquid production. He alerted that biofuels are likely to have negative impact on food security, biodiversity and land issues if there are no policies in place to regulate the industry.

To ensure sustainability of a biofuel industry, efforts are being done by the government to have a national policy for biofuels development but at the moment all there is, are but a draft in the hands of stakeholder to collect their comments.

He further said participation of the EAC region on development of ISO standard on sustainability criteria for bioenergy contributed to pushing some of issues in the standards.

“The availability of a national policy without a standard will not suffice the industry to operate and grow, hence the international standard, when finalized together with national policy and regulatory framework will facilitate sustainable biofuel production…,” the TBS acting Director General emphasized.

Speaking earlier, the EAC principal standard officer, Willy Msinguzi, announced plans to conduct awareness programs before the new standards become operational. The Swedish government through its agency SIDA has agreed to support the project which would cost some USD 3.6m.

Bioenergy is renewable energy made available from materials derived from biological sources. Biomass is any organic material which has stored sunlight in the form of chemical energy.

Biomass is derived from different types of organic matter: energy plants (oilseeds, plants containing sugar) and forestry, agricultural or urban waste including wood and household waste.

Biomass can be used for heating, for producing electricity and for transport biofuels. Biomass can be solid (plants, wood, straw and other plants), gaseous (from organic waste, landfill waste) or liquid (derived from crops such as wheat, rapeseed, soy, or from lignocellulosic material).

The use of biomass can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions which are responsible for the devastating global warming effects that are causing havoc on weather patterns as the globe grapples with the extensive climate change.

 One of the advantages of biomass fuel is that it is often a by-product, residue or waste-product of other processes, such as farming, animal husbandry and forestry. In theory this means there is no competition between fuel and food production, although this is not always the case.

Biomass is material derived from recently living organisms, which includes plants, animals and their byproducts. Manure, garden waste and crop residues are all sources of biomass. It is a renewable energy source based on the carbon cycle, unlike other natural resources such as petroleum, coal, and nuclear fuels.

Another source includes Animal waste, which is a persistent and unavoidable pollutant produced primarily by the animals housed in industrial-sized farms. There are also agricultural products specifically being grown for biofuel production.

These include corn and soybeans and to some extent wheat, sugarcane palm oil sorghum and cassava, in fact, even Hemp has also been proven to work as a biofuel.

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