Toward a sustainable bioeconomy in West Africa: A focus on biorefining
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2017
Considering its size and expanding population, Africa needs to play a more active role in preventing global warming. The economy of most West African countries is driven by agriculture and the export of processed wood resulting in the generation of tons of wood and agricultural waste. The waste is usually disposed of by burning, which releases harmful greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the environment. Wood and agricultural wastes are valuable biomass feedstocks for second-generation biofuels and chemicals. The availability of diverse feedstocks makes the West African sub-region suitable for setting up biorefineries. However, the limiting factors for establishing biorefineries such as appropriate technology, infrastructure and forward-looking policies have to be addressed. The currently high cost of biofuel production and competitive crude oil prices also make it seem unfeasible for West African countries and other developing economies to invest in this industry. Therefore, we present an idea for developing a multipurpose modular biorefinery model to meet the energy needs of the region with an added advantage of creating new markets and jobs. We also discuss what new energy policies should be focused on in order to fast-track the development of the bioenergy sector.