First Step Sri Lanka
Biomass Group will start in Sri Lanka to prove and refine the business model before replicating into other developing countries. Following the peace settlement in May 2009, the government has focused on supporting national economic development and the economy is expanding quickly. Growth is increasing the demand for fossil fuels which need to be imported and are expensive and a strategic supply risk. To mitigate this risk, the government has put in place a high tariff structure for Biomass energy – the highest in the region.
The combination of growth and highly taxed energy imports has created a significant opportunity for renewable energy, both to replace fossil-fuelled electricity and to provide an alternative energy source to meet forecast demand.
In Sri Lanka the principal feedstock being used is Gliricidia sepium, a rapidly growing, short-rotation and highly versatile tree. Gliricidia is a leguminous tree native from Central America, but now present in several tropical regions of the world. Gliricidia is a fast-growing species, easy to propagate, adapted to diverse environmental conditions, and used by farmers as living fences, as shade tree for other crops, or for forage and fuel-wood production. Moreover, its coppicing ability, high rate of above ground Biomass production, and biological nitrogen-fixing capability, make this multi-purpose tree species a potential way to improve soil fertility in alley cropping systems.