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Developing the Biomass Value Chain

Alien vegetation biomass beneficiation can become an effective entry point to develop low-carbon economies. Developing a biomass value chain through alien vegetation removal can offset clearing costs, create new jobs and be used to develop innovative low-carbon and lower-cost solutions. An industry-based biomass value chain can support applications like biochar production, biomass to energy and furniture manufacture. The focus on biomass value chain development allows for a significantly more robust industry and applications to be developed, boosting local industries and communities.

WWF Nedbank Green Trust has supported TOMA-Now on work to unlock freshwater resources and produce value from biomass, notably alien invasive trees. The focus was on how to holistically optimise the combination of freshwater, forestry and alien vegetation biomass for regional communities and industry at different scales and for specific needs through a review of related biomass value chain requirements. Examples of regional needs identified include thermal energy (heat or steam) for SAB Miller’s hops fermentation process in Caledon and wood preparation for the furniture industry. The viability process included calculating the economics of alien vegetation clearing from water sources, distance to market, the value of alien and forestry biomass itself and how it could efficiently, more cost-effectively and with a lower carbon footprint, replace existing fuel sources.

This work demonstrates the feasibility of a value chain-based, viable biomass beneficiation approach that gets everyone on board –  from biomass clearers to technology developers to startups and corporates. The outcome clearly shows the opportunity to viably, sustainably and exponentially develop the biomass industry through the development of a strong biomass value chain.

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