The Alternative Charcoal Tool

A pair of  large charcoal kilns carbonizing sun-dried branches into charcoal. Photo courtesy of Cookswell Energy Saving Jikos.

A pair of large charcoal kilns carbonizing sun dried branches into charcoal. Photo courtesy of Cookswell Energy Saving Jikos.

To support the decision whether and how to engage in alternative charcoal production, the Biomass Technology Group (BTG) on behalf of NL Agency has developed the Alternative Charcoal Tool (ACT). If you want to know how to produce charcoal from alternative feedstocks, this tool gives you a helpful insight into the various opportunities. Examples are charcoal dust, harvest residues like cotton stalks, processing residues and invasive species.

Being an interactive Excel tool, the ACT provides you with a quick guidance for assessing business case opportunities and supports the design and implementation of your programmes and projects.

It consists of four modules, namely feedstock selection, market selection, technology selection, and production costs determination. The tool can be used by small and medium enterprises, policy makers as well as NGOs or donor organizations in developing countries.

At least 80% of the African population depends on traditional biomass resources such as charcoal and firewood for household energy use. A lot of this charcoal is produced unsustainably in forests near urban areas, where most charcoal consumption takes place. One solution is to promote the use of alternative feedstock for wood charcoal.

For more information on the Alternative Charcoal Tool and two reports on sustainable and alternative charcoal production, namely

  • Charcoal production from alternative feedstocks (report, 2013), and
  • Making charcoal production in Sub Sahara Africa sustainable (report, 2010),


The Alternative Charcoal Tool is available for free download at: (registration required).

Article by Katharina Wiedemann, Energypedia

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