Traditional biomass

"Traditional biomass" refers to fuelwood, charcoal, agricultural residues and animal dung. Most of this type of energy is used for lighting and direct heat in poor countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, especially in rural areas where access to affordable, modern energy services is limited.10 When used sustainably, the use of traditional biomass is not in itself a cause for concern. However the World Energy Outlook has for many years highlighted traditional biomass use because the way in which these resources are used to provide energy services - cooking, heating and lighting - often has a serious impact on health, economic productivity and the environment. More people die prematurely in poor countries from the health impacts associated with indoor air pollution from burning biomass than from malaria. In addition, a great deal of time and effort is devoted to fuel collection, usually by women and children. This restricts them from engaging in more productive activities, such as enrolling in school and running small enterprises. Exploitation of biomass resources can also result in local environmental damage, such as land degradation, deforestation and air pollution. These negative effects can be ameliorated with policies and programmes which promote improved cookstoves with chimneys, proper ventilation in kitchen design, efficient charcoal kilns and fuelwood plantations.

Although accurate and detailed statistics are essential for proper policy and market analysis, very few governments report on the use of traditional biomass at the household level. In order to raise the awareness of household energy consumption in non-OECD countries, the IEA has attempted a global assessment and has estimated the number of people who rely on these fuels, based on national surveys. We calculate that 2.5 billion people in Africa, non-OECD Asia and Latin America rely

10. Chapter 15 provides an outlook for the use of modern fuels in oil- and gas-rich sub-Saharan Africa ^ countries. See Chapter 8 in WEO-2007 for a discussion of household energy demand in China and Chapter 20 ¡J for India. §

c on the burning of biomass resources in inefficient devices to meet their cooking and heating needs. In the absence of new policies, this number of people will rise to 2.7 billion in 2030 (IEA, 2006).

The use of biomass in Africa is mainly in the residential and services sectors for cooking and heating, and it is not expected to decline much over the Outlook period. Traditional use of biomass declines in non-OECD Asian countries, as rising incomes enable more households to switch to cleaner-burning fuels. Use of biomass in the residential and services sectors declines in Latin America.

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