Solid biofuels consumption estimation model

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The African continent accounts for about 50% of the solid biofuels consumed worldwide, with 82% of its inhabitants – or around 900 million people -- relying on it for heating and cooking. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, roughly 95% of the population depends on biomass in the form of fuelwood, charcoal and residues. Accurate data to measure solid biofuel’s share of the energy mix is key to developing policies and assessing sustainability goals. However, the continent suffers from systematic lack of data, with the reported figures often not harmonised across countries and collected from outdated surveys.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has developed an Excel-based tool to estimate residential solid biofuel consumption as part of a 4-year programme co-funded by the European Commission, titled “An Affordable and Sustainable Energy System for Sub-Saharan Africa”. The programme aims to improve energy data management and long-term energy planning in 10 countries (Benin, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Uganda and Zambia) through modelling capacity building and data improvement activities.

The model uses a hybrid approach, combining top-down and bottom-up methods to take advantage of available data and overcome modelling limitations. It relies on existing country data and other international organisations’ databases. It provides a historical estimation of residential consumption by solid biofuel type (charcoal, firewood and agricultural residues) and by end-uses, as well as the possibility to model future demand and emissions under different scenario settings (Stated Policies Scenario, Sustainable Development Scenario and User-defined options). More information is available in the Concept Note.

The tool is user-friendly and intuitive, with a self-explanatory dashboard.

The IEA primarily collects data from the statistical releases of national administrations and uses secondary sources and estimations where official data are not available. For robust policy decisions, we encourage countries to collect national data as their first option and only use alternative methods when that is not possible, such as the tool we are proposing for estimating solid biofuels consumption.

A comprehensive model takes into account many variables, as mentioned in the concept note. However, this presents a great challenge in terms of data availability. In order to create a suitably strong framework for the whole set of selected countries, some variables have been removed when there were not enough reliable sources. As a result, the model is a good start to verify and retrieve reliable data, but also a challenge to national institutions to collect more on-field and accurate information.

Useful resources:

1. Youtube IEA Africa University solid biofuels model: theoretical session

2. Youtube IEA Africa University solid biofuels model: practical session

3. Youtube IEA Africa University: solid biofuels data collection by FAO

4. Energy sub-Saharan Africa programme page

5. Africa region page

Data sets

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Data for Solid Biofuels Model

  • File
  • Data file


  • 18/03/2022

    Solid biofuels model


The present concept note focuses on the production of reliable and accurate data for solid biofuels in a set of Sub-Saharan African countries.

This work is available under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (CC BY 4.0).