A Ugandan Company Makes Alternative Energy From Bamboo

Long has it been since the first whispers of global warming circulated amongst citizens and governments alike.

A Ugandan Company Makes Alternative Energy From Bamboo

The first known ability that humans could alter the weather dates back to ancient Greece, when individuals believed cutting trees, irrigating, or plowing fields led to rainfall.

Later, in 1824, French physicist Joseph Fourier would be the first recorded individual to notice the greenhouse gas effect. "The temperature [of the Earth] can be augmented by the interposition of the atmosphere, because heat in the state of light finds less resistance in penetrating the air, than in re-passing into the air when converted into non-luminous heat."

In the early 1900s, more researchers would notice changes in the weather that no longer mimicked previous centuries, though many brushed this off. A few more decades would pass as scientists would start to gain more evidence and scientific backings to the reality of climate change. Then, in 1975, "US scientist Wallace Broecker puts the term "global warming" into the public domain in the title of a scientific paper."

Since then, a lot has happened regarding population growth and innovative technology. This has resulted in a culmination of new and secure evidence prompting many individuals throughout the globe to acknowledge global warming as something that needs to be taken seriously.

Some companies are looking to combat the earth's atmospheric emissions by creating new and innovative devices. In contrast, others are sticking to the age-old practices that can likewise be beneficial, such as planting trees.

This brings us to Divine Bamboo, a Ugandan company planting bamboo and using it for alternative energy.

Supporting Local Communities

Divine Bamboo is a company founded by Divine Nabaweesi, a social worker turned entrepreneur. The business's mission is to "stop deforestation in Uganda through the promotion of fast-growing local bamboo species to produce clean cooking fuel in the form of briquettes and charcoal."

The briquettes can be used interchangeably with coal; only the former yields a smaller environmental footprint. Right now, these briquettes are made of bamboo and charcoal, although Nabaweesi and her team hope to be able to make them from 100% bamboo eventually.

To make the briquettes, the bamboo is harvested, dried, and broken up before being sent into a carbonizer. Here, the carbonizer will be sealed so that oxygen cannot enter, and then the bamboo will be burned at extreme temperatures. What results is bamboo charcoal, which is then crushed and mixed with a binder to mold.

The briquettes have also undergone testing by the Centre for Research in Energy Efficiency and Conservation to ensure their efficiency and durability.

"It is not enough to just tell people don't cut down trees. People still need a livelihood, they still need to eat, they need to earn an income, so if we can give them an alternative in the form of bamboo which grows fast, in three years they would be harvesting," says Nabaweesi.

A Quality Resource

Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants globally, with some species growing at a rate of nearly 3 feet a day. Moreover, cutting bamboo is suitable for it as it stimulates the plant and can even make it grow faster, which can also help with carbon capture. Some sources even state that bamboo can sequester carbon at a rate of 10x than that of wooded trees.

Currently, Divine Bamboo owns one of the largest bamboo farms in the country, with a minimum of 200,000 seedlings every year being produced since its start in 2016.

The company also sells these bamboo seedlings to customers so that they too can begin to plant their own little bamboo farm and not need to cut down native trees. These seedlings come in a wide variety to suit the terrain, weather, and needs of the farmer and are sold in a "ready to plant" form to make the process even easier.

Since Divine Bamboo is still relatively young, its ability to achieve so much in a short period is a testament to the hard work, research, and dedication happening behind the scenes. The external support and funding they have received have also aided their success. This can be seen with one of their more recent acts of backing via a 25,000-euro grant from the Dutch Fund for Climate and Development, which will help Divine Bamboo maintain its bamboo nurseries.

A Good Deed Goes a Long Way

In many places throughout the globe, access to energy is scarce. In Uganda, around 42% of the population has access, most of it being coal-powered. Though that may not sound like much to some people, it is actually a huge win compared to the 8% just two decades earlier.

As time continues, Divine Bamboo will be able to help increase these numbers further and do so in a way that has a lowered environmental footprint, effectively assisting the area in gaining access while simultaneously moving it away from fossil fuel reliance and deforestation.

"There is a growing number of people who are conscious about the environment, and so they don't feel comfortable using charcoal anymore and they are happy if they can find an alternative."

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