What We Do
Most households in the SADC region obtain their energy for cooking and space heating from biomass. With increasing pressure on forests and trees, this is leading to extensive deforestation and erosion. Cooking with traditional biomass also leads to indoor air pollution, while people in urban areas tend to rely on fossil fuels which emit highly toxic greenhouse gases that are contributing to climate change and global warming.
The effects on human health and wellbeing are devastating, not only because people suffer respiratory diseases, but also because they have to walk further away from their homesteads to gather wood. This cuts into their productive time and children often miss out on school, contributing to keeping people in a cycle of poverty.
ProBEC is committed to poverty reduction and to providing access to modern energy for the poor. Its programmes aim to increase access to affordable, safe, modern energy technologies and sources and in this way it can ensure energy security and the sustainable use of energy. In this way its interventions can benefit health and economic development, contribute to gender equality, increase access to education, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The non-renewable biomass (NRB) status of a country is the extent to which the harvesting of wood exceeds the re-growth rate and relates to the specific amount of woody biomass harvest which is not balanced by re-growth. Since biomass is non-renewable, activities that minimise its use contribute to environmental sustainability.
There are three components to ProBEC interventions:
- efficient use of energy devices,
- giving policy advice,
- developing new knowledge on biofuel.
Efficient use of energy devices
ProBEC aims to stimulate the permanent adoption of efficient wood stoves. Its key roles in doing so are promotion, accreditation, manufacture, retail, installation of the cooking equipment, ensuring that cooks are trained, that the stoves are maintained, used, repaired and replaced through the project period, and the extent of their actual use and wood savings is efficiently monitored.
By developing and promoting improved and energy-efficient stoves, wood-fuel is saved and thus ProBEC and its implementing partners aim to stimulate widespread sales, installations, maintenance and long term use of improved cooking appliances.
ProBEC also promotes a switch to renewable energy sources through the introduction of biogas, solar cookers, and fuels can include crop residues. Charcoal is considered a form of wood-fuel.
ProBEC follows a commercial approach in promoting the use of biomass energy technologies. The programme also provides training for entrepreneurs who supply the products to the market independent of the project. The programme also provides training for entrepreneurs during which woodstoves of suitable efficiency for each country are developed and engineered, gives back-up support to producers of stoves and assists with marketing of the technology. It also develops training packages for the trainers of stove producers – ‘training the trainers' – and contributes to general capacity development on efficient basic energy concepts.
The programme teams develop awareness campaigns about the benefits of efficient devices for households, small and medium-sized enterprises, and social institutions such as prisons, schools and orphanages.
ProBEC assists by raising demand among household users and institutions which get serviced through grants from third party.
Research and development also falls under the ambit of ProBEC. The refinement and improvement of existing energy devices is an ongoing task, as is the testing of new efficient energy technologies for producers and development organisations.
The outcome of these efforts is the increased correct use of improved energy devices, particularly for low-income groups.
In the countries where it operates, ProBEC co-operates with the relevant government departments, ministries and organizations involved in energy deficiency. ProBEC assists them with the identification of sub-projects and implementing partners, thereby creating an enabling environment for the promotion and dissemination of energy efficient measures and technologies.
In order to do this, ProBEC and the host country's Department of Energy (DoE) creates National Advisory Groups (NAGs) and services other energy fora, assisting their function for stakeholders.
ProBEC and the DOE also commission experts to produce strategy documents for the DOE and conduct stakeholder consultations on the Basic Energy Services and Technologies (BEST) concerning their interests, mandates and proposals for DOE.
ProBEC and relevant stakeholders lobby for the recommended changes on the regulatory framework. With relevant partners, ProBEC commissions experts to draft the required changes to the regulatory framework.
The ProBEC advisor also assists the SADC secretariat in the review of the biofuel strategy, in giving advice to member states and in lobbying for biomass energy.
In playing a facilitating role, ProBEC fosters better co-ordination among actors in the energy sector, it stimulates the adoption of energy strategies, operational plans and elaborates on pro-poor energy strategies, it ensures a more effective control and regulation of the energy resource base by its support for and advocacy of the relevant laws and regulations, and it provides advice and support to the SADC energy division. In the process the biomass profile is raised in the member states of the SADC region.
These interventions contribute to the equitable access to energy services, they reduce environmental degradation, increase sustainable energy provision, promote economic development and improve on nutrition.
ProBEC and Biofuels
ProBEC's focal point for the SADC
ProBEC has recognised the developmental and environmental potential of biofuels in the SADC. Our primary goal with regard to biofuels is that the SADC Secretariat has improved knowledge on the sustainable production and use of biofuels and its impacts for future initiatives in member states.
ProBEC has importantly identified the need for sustainable production and use of biofuels as a critical criterion in achieving a sustainable and profitable success in the biofuels industry and its subsequent markets. ProBEC has challenged itself to assure that international sustainability criteria and standards are upheld to ensure the international legitimacy of the projects it is involved in and in future endeavours. Meeting such criteria will attempt to negate growing global critique against biofuel production and use and importantly push ProBEC and in particular the SADC at the forefront of pioneering best practices for biofuel production and use in the developing world.
Currently ProBEC focus on environmental and social sustainability criteria is evident in its involvement in biofuels in the SADC. ProBEC and the SADC along with other interested multi-lateral organisations, nation-states and multi-national corporations have identified the resource potential of SADC member Mozambique to facilitate biofuel production. ProBEC has planned a pragmatic approach to biofuels in the SADC and for each of its activities a different goal is envisaged that contributes to realising best practice for biofuel production and use in the SADC.
In collaboration with experts, ProBEC is developing a system for the monitoring of the impacts of the biofuel sector in member states for the SADC secretariat.
ProBEC is supporting the implementation of two biofuels projects in Mozambique. One is a small-scale pilot project where it works with a farmer's organisation – COFAMOSA – to integrate sustainability criteria into its business plan. The aim is for COFAMOSA to apply sustainability standards in its implementation. (See the Mozambique country section for more details.)
In the other biofuels pilot project, ProBEC collaborates with interested stakeholders to develop a concept for small-scale projects of local biofuel production and use at community level, so that local stakeholders can use bio-oil for their energy needs.