Dendro 2005

European Commission Asia Pro Eco Program

The way forward for the use of wood and agricultural waste for energy production in S.E. Asia

Project Summary


The project calls for a conference and linked workshops which will be centred on Sri Lanka


This project will be centred around the staging of an international conference on the subject of the development of dendro-power and the use of agricultural waste for energy production, to be entitled âœIssues for the Sustainable Use of Biomass Resources for Energy”. It will provide a means to review progress made within the region and the lessons learnt and what should be the future strategy for increasing the proportion of energy produced from these sources. The conference will be targeted at researchers, energy policy makers, farm groups and private companies involved in sustainable energy production from wood fuel and agricultural waste working in the region and involved either in the growing side or in the conversion process. Following the conference there will a series of working group meetings with additional data collection and linked studies culminating in the production of a series of manuals and guides to the technology.


Wood is a critical component of the total energy balance of many countries within Asia, being close to 70% of the total national demand for Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and 30% for India. It is relatively recently that national energy policies have seriously accepted that fuelwood-based energy production can provide an economically viable alternative to expensive oil imports as well as providing a useful source of income to farmers and commercial growers. Sri Lanka has already embarked on a field testing programme of the production capabilities of short-term rotation crops in a range of sites under a EU funded research programme âœSustainable Supply of Fuelwood to meet Sri Lanka’s Energy Needs”. This project was funded under DG1B as part of the Tropical Forest Budget Line (B7-6201). Additional studies have been conducted by the Coconut Research Institute, who are interested in a more efficient use of the site through underplanting with fast growing leguminous tree species both for the production of energy crops and for green manure.

The objective of this present proposal is to make use of the Sri Lanka experience as a central plank and to bring together other researchers and workers from neighbouring countries to exchange their observations on such issues as: -

  • The production levels and economics of fast-growing trees for biomass production
  • Lessons learnt in developing this activity by farmers groups and out growers
  • The social and developmental issues arising from the encouragement of energy plantations as a livelihood activity
  • The utilisation of waste agricultural material for energy production, practical and economic factors
  • Suitable low-medium volume conversion technologies – lessons learnt and conclusions reached on overall efficiency rates and economics of this approach
  • Current land tenure and lease arrangements for land identified as suitable for plantations
  • Land use maps that show the current and potential suitability for fuel wood plantations within chena land, abandoned tea estates, grass land or other derelict land
  • Participation with communities in strategies that are appropriate for fuel wood production in these areas, and which they endorse as their own
  • Current national and regional policies on alternative energy development
  • The opportunities for regional co-operation and for linkages between public and private sectors
  • Knowledge gaps and the way forward.

The overall objective being to promote the use of alternative energy production schemes within the region

Partners for this project will be: -

  • The Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich (NRI), UK
  • The Bio Energy Association of Sri Lanka (BEASL)
  • The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), India
  • Comitato Thermotecnico Italiano (CTI), Italy

Publications and other outputs

A key part of this project will be the production of a range of reports and manuals tailored to a range of different readers.
Conference-related Papers.

As part of the Scoping Activities, some background papers will be prepared to from a basis for the conference. It is intended that the following subjects will be included:

  • Needs and constraints in the existing power supply structure in Sri Lanka and India, and current planning
  • Existing biomass resources and the potential within the medium term
  • Current status of energy technology within the region and the constraints for expansion
  • Environmental aspects of establishing biomass plantations
  • Land and socio-economic issues

In addition, the results from the completed first stage of âœSustainable Supply of Fuelwood to meet Sri Lanka’s Energy Needs” will be made available and updated by more recent measurements. Key note papers will be called from the partners on the following:-

  • Recent advances in biomass energy technology in Europe
  • Present and future role of biomass in energy production in SE Asia
  • Lessons learnt from farm forestry in SE Asia

In addition it is hoped to obtain position papers from representatives from other SE Asian/European representatives including commercial forestry companies.

Following completion of the conference, the proceedings will be produced

Working Group Papers

Working Groups will be formed. These will provide working documents as they progress, culminating in final position papers to be prepared following the discussion session planned for month 12. A key output from these meetings will be a list of technical papers and manuals that are considered by each working group to be required. The Chairperson of each group will be charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the group provides outlines of a series of papers/manuals aimed at a range of different audiences where this is relevant to the particular subject matter being discussed. Some of the proposed output is expected to include inter alia: -

Technical Papers

  • The economics of biomass plantations in Sri Lanka
  • The implications of supporting the development of biomass plantations in the farming systems of Sri Lanka and India
  • Land legislation issues related to tree-crop production
  • Long-term power needs in Sri Lanka and the role of alternative energy sources
  • Energy from non-traditional sources – lessons from Europe and SE Asia
  • The growth and production from Short-rotation crops in Sri Lanka.


  • The management of Short-rotation crops for biomass production
  • Tree farming – a guide to the farmer’s rights and government responsibilities
  • Planning small-scale local electrification projects

Webpage development

One output will be the development of a webpage to provide a convenient location for all papers on articles related to the conference and the resulting manuals and technical papers. The Ministry of Science and Technology already operates its own site, which already covers Dendro power and therefore that would be the most likely server. Since the partners also have their own web sites it is expected that linked pages could also be set up.

Multiplier effects

The stress on the production of technical papers, manuals and the development of the web page from this project is expected to have direct multiplier effects. In addition the Ministry of Science and Technology will ensure that the media is fully aware of the conference and will utilise this opportunity to inform the Sri Lanka public of the importance of non-traditional sources of energy and the particular benefits of utilising biomass within the Sri Lanka context.

The conference will include representatives of farmers groups, commercial growers as well as NGOs and government and parastatals. The intention being to ensure that all concerned members of society are made aware of such developments and have a say in the discussions of the working groups. It would be one of the intentions of this project that distinct user groups should emerge whose interests and concerns could be reflected beyond the life of this project.

In order to provide some direct feed-back to key Sri Lankans in the energy sector, a one week tour will be funded from the project for them to visit out-grower schemes and operating biomass plants within India or the region

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