Observer on Saturday - - News -

The use of wood chips in Eswa­tini is on the rise due to in­creased de­mand by su­gar com­pa­nies for use in co-gen­er­a­tion. Cur­rently the av­er­age an­nual de­mand for wood chips by the su­gar in­dus­try is ap­prox­i­mately 206 000 tonnes, and so far the tim­ber in­dus­try is able to meet this de­mand. Key play­ers in the tim­ber and su­gar in­dus­tries have es­tab­lished an as­so­ci­a­tion that in­cludes among its ac­tiv­i­ties the ex­plo­ration of power gen­er­a­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties us­ing avail­able biomass re­sources. The tim­ber in­dus­try has the po­ten­tial to in­crease the fuel sup­ply to meet new biomass power gen­er­a­tion through the pro­vi­sion of wood chips and forestry waste.

Mon­tigny In­vest­ment, which op­er­ates the Usuthu Saw Mill (formerly Sappi Usuthu), has pub­li­cised its in­ten­tion to de­velop a 33MW power gen­er­a­tion project. The com­pany has at­tracted in­ter­ested fi­nanciers for the project and is work­ing through ne­go­ti­a­tions with the SEC to start de­vel­op­ing the project.

Biomass ac­counts for over 60 per cent of Eswa­tini’s to­tal pri­mary en­ergy sup­ply and com­prises mainly tra­di­tional biomass and agro-in­dus­trial waste for co-gen­er­a­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to statis­tics from the Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­gan­i­sa­tion of the United Na­tions, fu­el­wood pro­duc­tion in Eswa­tini has in­creased 25 per cent in the last decade, reach­ing 1 093 333 cu­bic me­tres in 2012.

Char­coal pro­duc­tion in­creased 50 per cent over the same pe­riod, reach­ing 44 933 tonnes. The coun­try’s to­tal forested area of 624 000 hectares rep­re­sents 36 per cent of the land area; of the forested to­tal, 464 000 hectares is in­dige­nous for­est and wood­lands and the rest is com­mer­cial for­est plan­ta­tions.

The avail­abil­ity of fu­el­wood in the coun­try av­er­ages 50 per cent, with most of the fu­el­wood ob­tained freely from non-com­mer­cial com­mu­nal forests. Ap­prox­i­mately 14 per cent of fu­el­wood is ob­tained from com­mer­cial sup­ply, which is not reg­u­lated and is traded un­con­trolled.

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