Sustainability

Overview

AfriRen works with leaders in the West African agro-industrial business (rubber and palm oil) to realise the existing potential of their plantations in terms of biomass. These plantations hold a vast inventory of biomass, which can be extracted annually – as trees are replanted – to be used locally in cogeneration plants or to be exported to Europe to be used as fuel in dedicated biomass plants or co-firing coal power generators. Traditionally, the trees that are felled to be replanted are simply left decaying in the field or burnt on-site. AfriRen makes use of this by-product, creating a new business for the community, and our partners, and contributing to the fight against climate change by the promotion of a renewable energy resource.

But, does biomass utilisation for energy purposes reduce emissions? Biomass, like fossil fuels, releases carbon dioxide when burned. But whereas emissions from fossil fuels are net additions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, the carbon dioxide released from biomass becomes part of a natural cycle that entails no net additions. This means that biomass must be continuously re-grown in order to again sequester and store carbon. Fossil fuels, like coal or oil, cannot recycle carbon dioxide in this manner. They take millions of years to form through geological processes in the earth’s crust—and hence millions of years for the GHG emissions released by burning these fuels to be recaptured.

Extensive studies show that biomass co-firing is an effective way of reducing emissions from existing coal-fired generation in Europe. In fact, biomass co-firing with pellets is even more effective in reducing emissions than other conventional renewable energy resources such as wind or solar.

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AfriRen subscribes to the 10 Principles of the UN Global Compact 

  • Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
  • Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.
  • Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
  • Principle 4: the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;
  • Principle 5: the effective abolition of child labour; and
  • Principle 6: the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
  • Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;
  • Principle 8: undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and
  • Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.
  • Principle 10: Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.

More information on Africa Renewable’s participation can be found here. 

Sustainability is paramount

All of AfriRen’s cogeneration and biomass projects are carefully managed to ensure that:

  • Local communities benefit from the value creation
  • Deforestation of primary forest is prevented
  • European sustainability standards are upheld
  • CO2 emissions are minimised from the baseline
  • Auditing rules from international surveyors are followed and are made available to project partners

Each of our projects is structured around sustainable development and environmental protection, paying special attention to local communities and regional operators. Across the board, AfriRen adopts the most stringent international standards in terms of audit and certification to ensure the sustainability of its biomass. Amongst these accreditations are the European Sustainability Guidelines for biomass.

AfriRen’s Sustainability Principles

1) Reduction of greenhouse gases
2) No competition with food and local applications
3) Respect for the environment
4) Promotion of prosperity

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Our Biomass Quality

Our biomass is regularly checked against the European criteria (EU-EN). This certification system ensures the quality of standardised high-quality wood chips which can be fired ‘trouble-free’ in commercially available wood pellet boilers. The criteria for the biomass are detailed in the table to the right. Please go to “Our projects”  for a detailed breakdown of our biomass against this criteria