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To Alternative Charcoal Or Not? That Is The Question.

This post was first printed on the website of the Harvest Fuel Initiative.

Our inbox (like yours, no doubt) is often cluttered with useless emails. But, from time to time, something useful pops along, like this nifty Alternative Charcoal Tool.

Promoted by Energypedia and developed by the Biomass Technology Group with support from the NL Agency, the tool is billed as a “decision support tool (that) gives information and insight in the potential of charcoal production of alternative feedstock. Four modules cover feedstock selection, market selection, technology selection and production costs determination.” (See the full text of the press release below.)

We have not tested the tool yet, so we don’t know how well it works. We do however invite you to comment if you decide to take the tool out for a spin!

– The Harvest Fuel Initiative Team

Assessing Business Cases – the Alternative Charcoal Tool (ACT)

At least 80% of the African population depends on traditional biomass resources such as charcoal and firewood for household energy use. Most charcoal is produced unsustainably in forests near urban areas, where most charcoal consumption takes place.

One solution is to promote the use of alternative feedstock for wood charcoal. However, since its production requires additional technologies and investments that need to compete with the informal charcoal sector, widespread use of alternative feedstock has not been achieved yet.

To support the decision whether and how to engage in alternative charcoal, the Biomass Technology Group (BTG) on behalf of NL Agency has now developed the Alternative Charcoal Tool (ACT). If you want to know how to produce charcoal from alternative feedstocks, this tool gives you a helpful insight in the various opportunities. Examples are charcoal dust, harvest residues like cotton stalks, processing residues and invasive species.

Being an interactive excel tool, the ACT provides you with a quick guidance for assessing business case opportunities and supports the design and implementation of your programmes and projects. It consists of four modules, namely feedstock selection, market selection, technology selection, and production costs determination. The tool can be used by small and medium enterprises, policy makers as well as NGOs or donor organizations in developing countries.

For more information about the Alternative Charcoal Tool and on the two reports on sustainable and alternative charcoal production, see also (including direct link to the reports):


  • Charcoal production from alternative feedstocks (report, 2013)
  • Making charcoal production in Sub Sahara Africa sustainable (report, 2010)

The Alternative Charcoal Tool is available for free download at:

http://www.btgworld.com/en/references/publications/alternative-charcoal-tool  (registration required).

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  1. Pingback:To Alternative Charcoal Or Not? That Is The Question. : One Percent for the Planet

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