Planning for Sustainability

Multi-stakeholder engagement and a process of planning for sustainability, developed the vision, principles, criteria and indicators that can be used to guide the assessment and management of IAP2ENERGY-related projects. The vision was established as: Landowners, business, government, civil society and communities in the Agulhas Plains area are working together to enable the sustainable production and use of green energy derived from invasive alien plants to conserve biodiversity, restore the land and promote resilient and continuous livelihoods for the equitable benefit of all. The top four issues or sustainability indicators that both stakeholders and CSIR researchers considered most important were identified as: Minimise impacts on natural ecosystems, Job creation, Skills development, and Certainty of benefits to local people of the Agulhas plains.

A key aspect is the delicate balance between ensuring that the process is economically feasible without being driven by market demands that would create the dependency on IAPs and provide incentives for the farming of IAPs. IAPs are considered a non-renewable resource since the eradication of IAPs is the ultimate objective that complies with government legislation so that the farming of IAPs will not be permitted. In this IAP2ENERGY pre-feasibility assessment, the project lifetime is 20 years in order to synchronise the IAP2ENERGY technology lifetime with the proposed period of IAP biomass eradication (resource depletion).

Four areas of approximately 3200 km2 were identified (to minimise transportation costs), and the available IAP biomass stocks within these areas were estimated to have a total energy content of 25TJ, which could generate 12MW of electricity and thereby provide sufficient energy for at least 20 000 people over a 20 year period (about half the people resident on the Agulhas plains). This indicates a considerable bioenergy potential and there are established commercial technologies available that can generate valuable bioenergy products from these IAPs- such as compressed logs, charcoal, and electricity.

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