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Bamboo is gradually being recognised as a globally important biomass resource. Bamboo biomass can be used directly as fuelwood; modified into charcoal for cooking and heating; or converted into gas for thermal and electrical energy generation. It is a strategic – but often overlooked – resource for achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7: ‘Ensuring clean and sustainable energy access for all’.
By contrast, bamboo can be harvested in a relatively short period and does not require re-planting, so it provides a continuous supply of material. Using bamboo for cooking and heating can take pressure off other forest resources, avoiding deforestation. As well as this, bamboo charcoal burns without smoke and odour, providing intangible health benefits for women in the home. These qualities make bamboo a suitable bio-energy resource for domestic as well as industrial applications.
Bamboo cultivation and conversion into charcoal also offers great potential for income generating options: a rural household could earn over USD 1000 a year from producing bamboo charcoal.
In Madagascar, INBAR is demonstrating the power of bamboo. A 25kWh bamboo gasifier is being built which aims to power a training facility and around 250 local households.
With further applications and pilot projects, bamboo biomass can become a strategic tool to meet a range of international development goals, including the Paris Climate Agreement, the Bonn Challenge, REDD+ and the Aichi Targets. INBAR is an Observer to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and has worked across the world on bamboo bioenergy projects.