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Project About the Biomass Partnership Hamburg-Namibia

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The idea for the project has been developed since 2019 in a joint exchange between Namibian and German experts. In Hamburg, the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Energy and Agriculture (BUKEA), together with Hamburg Wärme GmbH and the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW), is responsible for the project 'Biomass Partnership Hamburg-Namibia'.

Namibia Biomass Partnership

About the Biomass Partnership Hamburg-Namibia

The origin of the project idea

The partnership idea arose in 2019 as part of a visit of  Namibian representatives from the fields of Government, business , science and  environment. This trip was organized by the Institute for Applied Material Flow Management (IfaS) of the Trier University of Applied Sciences in cooperation with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.  GIZ Namibia has been supporting Namibia in the development of measures against bush encroachment since 2014. The current basis is a commission from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in cooperation with the Namibian Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) from 2018-20211, which aims at an improved use of bush biomass from controlled bush harvests. International markets should explicitly be included.

Background: Bush encroachment as an ecological problem

For decades Namibia has been suffering massively and increasingly from bush encroachment of the savannah, which today affects up to 50% of the country's land area (quote former Agriculture Minister John Mutorwa: "a national disaster situation"). Despite the diverse domestic use of bush wood as, for example, firewood, animal feed, charcoal and biochar,  building materials or wood-plastic composites, and also as energy fuel , this demand is just enough to utilise about 1/10 of the annual growth. For this reason, international demand for this biomass is being sought, and several European cities and companies have been approached in this context.

Due to the planned phase-out of coal, the large central heat demand in the district heating network and not least because of the international port infrastructure,  Hamburg has good basic conditions for the off-take of bush biomass. Therefore the possibility of a future biomass partnership between Hamburg and Namibia is to be examined in this project.

Actors involved

The responsible body in Hamburg is the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Energy and Agriculture (BUKEA), together with Hamburg Wärme GmbH and the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW).

They signed a Memorandum of Understanding with IfaS in May 2020. The BUKEA had informed on this on 12 May 2020.

The agreement provides for the establishment of working groups to examine how the idea of a Hamburg-Namibia biomass partnership could be implemented sustainably. State Secretary Michael Pollmann: "The condition for this is that the social and environmental balance sheet is correct throughout the supply chain. As much added value as possible should remain in Namibia and as many people as possible should benefit from it on the ground."

The first meetings of the working groups took place with the following participation:

Working Group 1 (Communication and Sensitization):

Task: In this working group, advantages and disadvantages for the proposed biomass use in Germany / outside Namibia are compiled. The aim is to assess the general sensitivity and to analyse the risks from an environmental and development policy and communicative point of view, taking into account different perspectives from different interest groups. This working group will then focus on the development of a solid communication strategy/concept for a biomass partnership with Namibia. The working group will focus on environmental and socio-ecological issues as well as sustainability aspects (e.g. local working conditions, certification, CO2 compensation [LCA], biodiversity, etc.) with a view to thinning the bush in Namibia and the use of bush biomass in Germany. The group will cover all relevant topics from harvest to final use. Finally, the group will examine the global potential for similar bush biomass and assess whether other countries could also be a sustainable supplier.

  • Ministry of Environment, Climate, Energy and Agriculture (BUKEA)
  • Embassy of Namibia, Berlin
  • Namibian Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism
  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH,
  • Institute for Applied Material Flow Management (IfaS)
  • Wärme Hamburg GmbH (WH)
  • Namibia Biomass industry Group (N-BiG)
  • Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF)
  • Hamburg Future Council *
  • "stop greenwashing" Hamburg *

* Acting as representative of a self-contained group of several non-governmental organisations and associations, which also confer on this subject.

Working Group 2 (Techno-economic assessment):

Task: This working group will focus on the in-depth analysis of the techno-economic requirements for the use of bush biomass in Hamburg. The Group will analyse the entire value chain from harvest and processing and transport to final use, with a focus on reliability and a trustworthy, collaborative and future-oriented supply contract with Namibia.

  • Wärme Hamburg GmbH (WH)
  • Ministry of Environment, Climate, Energy and Agriculture (BUKEA)
  • Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW Hamburg)
  • Institute for Applied Material Flow Management (IfaS)
  • Namibia Biomass industry Group (N-BiG)

Working Group 3 (BtL / PtL-Center Hamburg)

As of September 2020:

Task: In addition to the proposed use of biomass combustion for WH for district heating purposes, the idea of setting up an innovation centre for renewable fuels was discussed. It could serve as a hub for the future production and distribution of fuel based on renewable energy. The idea is to use biomass as a source, while current technologies (e.g. BtL) could serve as an additional waste heat source for the Hamburg district heating network. It is necessary to examine where such innovation centres should ideally be located. If it is not feasible to set up such centres in Namibia, Hamburg could be a logical solution.

  • Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW Hamburg)
  • Wärme Hamburg GmbH (WH)
  • Ministry of Environment, Climate, Energy and Agriculture (BUKEA)
  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
  • Institute for Applied Material Flow Management (IfaS)
  • Namibia Biomass industry Group (N-BiG)

Results are published here on this homepage (link to the homepage) successively.
The final assessment results are expected in July 2021.


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1 https://www.giz.de/en/worldwide/28648.html

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