Benin embarks on the production of non-polluting energy from agricultural residues

Feb 23, 2017

Benin is faced with the difficulty of households’ access to modern energy, while it has enormous potential in terms of renewable energies. With a view to diversifying sources of energy supply and ensuring sustainable energy supply to the population, on 27 January 2017 the Government of Benin signed with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) the Project for the Promotion of Sustainable production of biomass electricity in Benin.

"This project is a step forward in Benin's march to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the energy sector [...]. The use of the enormous amount of biomass waste from agricultural production for electricity generation through the use of biomass gasifiers proves to be an effective strategy for diversifying alternative and sustainable sources of energy, Electrification, "said Siaka Coulibaly, Resident Coordinator of the UN System and UNDP Resident Representative in Benin.

About 8 million tons of agricultural residues are available annually in the country, but only 55% are used in rural areas for various activities, leaving nearly 3.5 million tons of putrefying residues in the fields. These residues can be used to generate a large amount of clean energy.

For Mr Abdoulaye Bio Tchané, Minister of State for Planning and Development, "the official signing of the project document [...] is an additional step in our long struggle to master energy in our country". It is in line with the development strategy of the energy sector included in the Government Action Program (2016-2021), he added.

Mr. Jean Claude Houssou, Minister of Energy, Water and Mines, welcomed the conclusion of the project to promote the sustainable production of biomass electricity in Benin. It will help to exploit the potential of biomass to generate electricity.

With a total cost of US$ 29,622,602, the project is financed by the Global Environment Facility (US$ 3, 872,602), the Government of Benin (US$ 10,250,000), UNDP (US$ 500,000) and the Benin Electric Community (US$ 15,000,000).

It will be executed in four (4) pilot municipalities of Benin namely: Kalalé, Djougou, Savalou and Dassa-Zoumè. It aims to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by generating electricity by gasification of unused harvest residues to create a favorable legal, regulatory and commercial environment by strengthening institutional, administrative and technical capacity in the sector.

By 2021, 76,651 MWh of electrical energy will be produced through biomass gasification, avoiding 67,070 tons of CO2. Some 500 green jobs will be created in biomass gasifiers, sustainable forest and land management with at least 50% of the jobs created for women. In the meantime, over 5,000 rural households and small commercial/industrial enterprises will be connected to electricity services by the project end.

The project will also support the neighboring communities of the beneficiary zones to improve techniques of agricultural production of more than 9000 hectares and will prop the restoration of the lands and plantations of forest on almost 2000 hectares. Thus, sustainable management practices will be implemented in the forests where the biomass gasifier exist.

The project document was signed by the Minister of State for Planning and Development, the Minister of Energy, Water and Mines and the UNDP Resident Representative in Benin in the presence of the technical executives of the concerned ministries.

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