In the run up to the COP21 climate talks last year, the World Bioenergy Association (WBA) launched a new initiative to connect renewable energy suppliers with manufacturers across the globe. The bioenergy equipment directory aims to provide a comprehensive list of companies manufacturing equipment for all parts of the biomass to bioenergy process.
"The objective is to facilitate knowledge and technology transfer between clients looking for equipment and companies looking to sell", said WBA’s executive director, Karin Haara, speaking at the COP21 talks in Paris last December.
Project Officer at the WBA, Bharadwaj Kummamuru Venkata, explained why COP21 was an important forum to publicise the new database: "One of the main challenges in getting a deal is facilitating technology transfer between developed and developing countries."
"However, there is clearly a lack of a common platform where companies can showcase their products and customers can search and compare information. This is especially true for the bioenergy sector, which is a rapidly growing area but lacks a common platform for bioenergy equipment producers and customers."
The directory is in its infancy, with only 21 companies included at present, including PetroBio, specialists in biomass burning technology. "Petrobio thinks it is a good idea to work together with other companies in the same market. This way the end customer can find all information in the same place, where Petro is one slice of the cake," says PetroBio’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing Bengt Attebo.
The WBA plans to extend the reach and membership of the database by attending international renewable energy conferences and directly reaching out to their members and other bioenergy equipment suppliers. It is going well so far: "The response from the attendees at the COP21 has been very positive. We expect that in 2016, there will be a rise in the number of companies joining the directory, but also real technology transfer occurring to satisfy the needs of developing countries in realising their biomass energy potential" says Venkata.
The database in its current form is unfortunately hampered by the WBA’s lack of resources. Although it is careful not to endorse any companies or products and verifies company details are correct, it doesn’t vet database members for ethical practices or quality assurance. Perhaps this is something which could be added as the database gains more suppliers and users.
What the database does succeed with is the global coverage of suppliers. Each continent has a number of suppliers listed who serve that area. There is clearly a need; according to Venkata at the WBA exhibition stand at COP21 "we had country representatives from the Seychelles, India, Uganda, and Jamaica informing us of the need for such a platform. We also had company representatives interested in joining the platform to showcase their equipment to a larger audience."
As participation is free initially, it is difficult to see why suppliers wouldn’t want to join. The success of the directory therefore lies in the WBA’s ability to market it to maximum effect. COP21 was a good starting point, it remains to be seen whether the WBA can capitalise on the exposure.