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Cobija: Generating electricity and carbon credits through gasification of brazil nut shells and pods

General information
Project location: Cobija, Cobija
Consortium: Ankur Scientific Energy Technologies Pvt. Ltd., Tahuamanu S.A.
Project Budget: Euro 1,500,000
External financing: 50% grant funding by PSI
Project period: December 2009 - December 2011

Power generation plant

Tahuamanu from Bolivia is the world’s largest and technologically most advanced processor and exporter of brazil nut (a.k.a. Para nut). Thousands of collectors gather the nuts in the Amazon forest in the north of Bolivia for processing at the company’s state-of-the-art plant in Cobija. For years the empty shells have been stockpiled for lack of economic use. Tahuamana has long searched for an affordable and reliable technological solution to generate electricity out of the biomass, which has a very high caloric value, to alleviate Cobija’s increasing power shortage. It has identified Ankur Scientific Energy Technologies from India as its long-term partner to implement a biomass gasification system – unique to Bolivia – as a basis for power generation for delivery to ENDE, the public utility in charge of electricity transmission and distribution in Cobija.

Biomass Gasifier

The pilot plant will generate 4,500 MWh per year, some 15% of Cobija’s current electricity demand. Moreover, owing to replacement of fossil fuel to produce electricity, the project’s emission reductions should qualify under the Gold Standard of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The project will lead to substantial fossil fuel savings and generate income for biomass collectors, who will be paid for gathering biomass. The increased power supply to Cobija will benefit the private and the public sector alike, thus contributing significantly to local development. Shortage of energy is seen as main impediment to economic development in many remote areas. The pilot is relevant to many areas in the Amazon region of Bolivia that are rich in biomass but too remote to be supplied through the main energy distribution network. It is anticipated that the pilot project will contribute to revision of national energy policies in favour of such projects, which the partners are planning to develop through follow-up investment.

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