DRAFT2: Opportunity to Implement Biochar and Climate-Smart Education on a Global Scale
Biochar is a charcoal-like substance that’s made by heating organic waste (also called biomass) in an oxygen-limited environment. It can be combined with organic matter and incorporated into soil to enhance its ability to grow food. Many organizations around the world are training people on how to make and utilize biochar such as the International Biochar Initiative. As well, there is a major initiative called Biochar Life by Warm Heart Worldwide that is underway to help smallholder farmers to receive payment for producing biochar.
1) Some quick facts about biochar:
a) It is a charcoal-like substance and is made by heating biomass in the range of about 300 to 800 deg. C in an oxygen-limited environment.
b) When added to soil, it remains in this soil for centuries.
c) It enhances soil to improve its food productivity
d) It makes crops more resilient to drought.
e) Making bio-char produces considerable surplus heat, which can be used in several ways including generating electricity and heating buildings.
2) Potential for implementing biochar on a global scale:
a) Individuals around the world can make biochar in their backyard with small-scale systems.
b) Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) can manufacture and sell biochar on small to medium commercial scale.
c) Large enterprises can manufacture and sell biochar as well as generate electrical power on a large commercial scale.
d) Biochar manufacturing systems can be combined with other technologies to generate reliable power and negative carbon emissions.
3) Enhancing the impact of biochar:
a) Co-composting it with animal manure and/or food waste can dramatically increase the productivity of soil.
b) Since creating biochar and using it in soil is an accepted method of reliably sequestering carbon by several carbon offset trading platforms, individuals and/or organizations can to earn substantial money by selling biochar-related carbon offsets using these platforms.
4) Organizations and technologies available to enable rapid global scale-up:
a) There is an international biochar organization with many chapters around the world. To view its website, visit: International Biochar Initiative.
b) A whole ecosystem of manufacturers, suppliers and consultants relating to biochar exists. For example, see: US Biochar Suppliers and Manufacturers.
c) Can be combined with food security communities for broad-based global scale-up.
5) Substantial information is available about biochar technology and its benefits. For example, see:
c) International Biochar Initiative Publications.
d) US Biochar initiative learning database.
f) Biochar summary by the Open Source Ecology Wiki
g) Wide range of informational videos, documentaries and technical papers. For example, see:
i) Biochar: The Oldest New Thing You’ve Never Heard Of | Wae Nelson | TEDxOrlando.
ii) Amazon Soils & Biochar.
iii) How to make Biochar from locals in the Peruvian Amazon.
iv) The Promise of Biochar – one study showed about 880% increase in food production.
v) Biochar in Viticulture Webinar, Jan 14, 2022
vi) BioChar Related Information Resources by Woodgas International
vii) Benefits of BioChar by Char-Grow: Biochar the Grow Superhero
viii) The Ultimate Guide to Biochar: how to make it, how to use it, and why it’s important, Jul 5, 2020
ix) Video: The Promise of Biochar – Part 1 – adding biochar along with mineral fertilizer to some poor soil helped it grow 880% more food
x) Biochar in agriculture – A systematic review of 26 global meta-analyses, 2021 by Hans-Peter Schmidt, et al.
xi) A quantitative understanding of the role of co-composted biochar in plant growth using meta-analysis 2019 by Wang, et al.
xii) Review of Large-Scale Biochar Field-Trials for Soil Amendment and the Observed Influences on Crop Yield Variations, 2021 by Vijay, et al.
h) Videos & Information about farm scale biochar systems:
ii) Video: Farm Scale Biochar Part 2 Feedstocks
a) Biochar for future food security: An overview, June 2017
b) Making Biochar to Improve Food Security and the Environment, Miles, T.
c) Biochar-based fertilizers for improved food and nutrition security
7) Money is becoming available for a large scale-up of biochar technologies. For example, see:
a) Major international carbon trading agreement (Article 6 of Paris agreement) signed at COP26 (International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) welcomes Glasgow Climate Pact).
b) US Department of Energy (DOE) launched its US$20bn Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations.
8) Manufactures of biochar can be paid the carbon capture and storage via carbon emissions trading marketplaces, such as the following:
a) Puro Earth (recently acquired by NASDAQ) – a B2B marketplace, standard and registry focused solely on carbon removals”.
b) Carbon TradeXchange
c) PowerNext – European Energy Exchange
d) Commodity Exchange Bratislava
9) There is a rapid growth of companies needing to buy carbon credits to meet their Net Zero commitments. To view some articles about the growth of the number of companies committing to Net Zero, visit:
10) Once large-scale projects are operational, they can be refinanced with Green Bonds (aka ClimateBonds). These bonds can be purchased by organizations that are concerned about climate change such as The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), which includes firms that collectively have over US$130 trillion under management. Once a project is re-financed via a Green Bond, project developers can use their original project funding to design and build their next project.
11) Major international initiatives can support global production and utilization of biochar. For example, education initiatives can be very complementary to biochar initiatives. Therefore, organizations facilitating climate-smart education are included in the list below:
12) There are several climate finance support centres around the world. For example, given below are some based in Africa:
a) The Private Financing Advisory Network (PFAN)
b) Ghana Climate Innovation Centre (GCIC)
c) Katapult Africa
d) Spring Accelerator, Nairobi, Kenya
e) Startupbootcamp Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
f) UNFCCC report:Climate Technology Incubators and Accelerators
g) List of 20 Business Accelerators / Incubators for African Startups by VentureBurn
h) A List Of Startup Accelerators In Africa by Afrikan Heroes, May 29, 2021
15) Foundations that have expressed concern about climate change can help accelerate biochar production and utilization of biochar in developing countries such as the ones outlined below:
a) Philanthropy Coalition for Climate.
b) Philanthropy For Climate – 425 foundations have committed to act on climate.
c) Open Philanthropy, San Francisco, CA
d) ClimateWorks Foundation
e) Climate Leadership Initiative (CLI), San Francisco, CA
16) Billionaires investing their money to advocate for action on climate change as well as investing their own money in this area:
a) Bill Gates, who founded Breakthrough Energy, wrote a book about “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster”.
b) John Doerr, who founded Kleiner Perkins, wrote a book about “Speed and Scale”.
c) Yishan Wong, who founded Terraformation and is seeking to catalyze the planting of at least a trillion trees.
b) Use the surplus heat generated for cooking and other uses.
c) Combine biochar with organic compost (For example, see: biochar inoculation recipe by AirTerra).
d) Apply combined compost and biochar to soil.
e) Grow food and compare production results with and without biochar and compost.
f) Learn about how they can access funding to create and utilize biochar in their own communities.
– Solar-powered drip irrigation that enables much more food to be produced from the same amount of water (eg. SunCulture).
– Net-house combined with drip irrigation that prevents pests from eating the food grown. (similar to a green-house except that the outer cover is made of a very fine plastic screen) (eg. Netafilm Africa).
– Solar-powered micro-grid (eg. FlexGrid).
– Solar-powered cold storage that keeps food much longer (eg. TAGE).
– Water filter system and automated dispenser (ATM) (eg. Susteq).
– Water from air machine (eg. Skywater).
18) To learn more about biochar, get updates on events and technology, and communicate with those who believe in the importance of biochar, consider joining one of these forums. Forums are a great way to meet others in the field and network.
19) Given below are some links to related summary pages we created:
a) Biochar Production and Utilization Summary.
b) Biochar Opportunities in Africa.
c) Climate Finance Resources Relating to Africa
f) Climate Finance Resources Relating to Afghanistan
e) Business Opportunities Creating Large-Scale Carbon Emissions Mitigation.
f) Current Climate Warming Trend, Expected Impacts & What Can Be Done?