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Liberian Firm Powers Europe

Swedish energy giant Vattenfall intends to burn woodchips in its European power plants that are sourced from old Liberian rubber trees.

It has signed a contract with Liberian company Buchanan Renewables Fuel to purchase a million tonnes of the chips over the next five years.

Vattenfall wants to burn the African biomass in power stations in Denmark, Germany and Poland to reduce the need for coal as a fuel.  Buchanan Renewables Fuel owned by the McCall Mac Bain Foundation, produces woodchips from non-producing rubber plantations.

Old rubber trees that no longer productive are converted into woodchips, while new trees are replanted at the farms. The company has the capacity to produce 400,000 tonnes of woodchips annually, it says.

Göran Lundgren, responsible for biomass at Vattenfall, says old rubber trees have previously been regarded as waste and burned at plantations. Now farmers will be paid for a product that up to recently was seen as worthless.

Vattenfall is also sending old diesel generators for power production to the Liberian capital Monrovia as a part of the deal. The generators, which until now have been used on the Swedish island of Gotland, will be converted to run on biodiesel before they are shipped to Africa.

The McCall Mac Bain Foundation is based in Geneva, Switzerland. Its capital stems from the sales of trade classified media to Norwegian media group Schibsted in 2006.

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