South Africa already generates a substantial amount of electricity from biomass, namely from bark and black liquor in the pulp mills and from bagasse in sugar refineries. This is mainly used by the industries themselves. [DoME et al, 2002].
Most of the biomass production is currently located in the north-eastern and eastern parts of the country per figure below.
Every year, millions of tons of agricultural residue, mainly corn and wheat stover, are burned and the energy wasted on the fields in order to reduce the biomass before ploughing and preparing the soil for the next crop. The biggest drawback for the majority of these agricultural residues to be utilised as a renewable energy resource is the low concentration of the residues as it is spread out over vast areas of land.
Figure: Biomass potential in South Africa [DME, Eskom, CSIR, 2001]
Department Of Minerals And Energy, Eskom, Energy Research Institute, University Of Cape Town (2002) ‘Energy Outlook For South Africa’