Energy consumption in Sierra Leone is dominated by biomass, which accounts for over 80% of energy used. The largest source of biomass energy is wood fuel followed by charcoal  , while the use of agricultural crop residues and bagasse in the sugar industry remains limited. In addition, there is considerable potential (without impacting on food production) to produce bio-fuels from energy crops such as maize and cassava, and processing of charcoal into biochar.
According to IRENA, “Renewable Energy Statistics 2017” report by IRENA Sierra Leone has a capacity of 33MW, generated from Biomass. The theoretical potential for the use of Biomass is 2.706GWh, according to the German Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie. It should be noted that the amount of residue is expected to increase as the Agricultural sector grows.
Sierra Leone puts almost all of its refuse to landfill sites. The energy content of the total domestic and industrial refuse disposed of in 2012 amounted to 594,000 tons per annum. Options for energy production from municipal waste should be examined including biogas projects as well as methane gas from landfills. 
The Addax ethanol project, close to Makeni, uses sugar cane to produce bio-ethanol for export and domestic use and for supply to the main Bumbuna-Freetown grid. Available power is said to be 15 MW. But in 2015 there were reports about the financial and operational trouble the company was facing.
In Port Loko district, at Magbass sugar cane industry, bagasse was used to generate heat and electricity. A re-introduction would be favourable.
Biomass for Cooking
According to the 2015 Population and Housing Census , 96,8 % of the population in Sierra Leone uses firewood or charcoal for cooking. Other sources, including gas, kerosene or electricity account for the remaining 3,2%. 64,7% of the households use firewood and 32,1% use charcoal on a national level. The percentages vary from district to district. The consumption of fuelwood is worsened by the widespread use of inefficient cooking methods, the most common of which is an open “3-stone-fire”. The rate of consumption of fuelwood far exceeds the replenishing rate to such an extent that desert encroachment, soil erosion and loss of soil fertility are now serious problems in the country. The nation's 2.726 million hectares of forest and woodland reserves could be depleted within the next hundred and thirty-six years, if not properly managed. These would result in negative impacts on the environment, such as soil erosion, desertification, loss of biodiversity, microclimatic change and flooding. Most of these impacts are already evident in different ecological zones in the country, amounting to huge economic losses.
Wood fuel is the dominant and cheapest fuel available on the Sierra Leonean market; the production, transportation and sale of wood fuels are all undertaken by the private sector. There is no official government pricing regulatory body responsible for setting the prices of wood fuels in Sierra Leone.
Awareness on Improved Cook Stoves is still to be raised, even though many people in bigger cities cook with locally made clay stoves which save fuel compared to the traditional metal coal pots used in other West African countries. Westwind Energy produces the "Wonder Stove" in a local clay and metal workshop in Freetown. It fulfills criteria for Improved Cook Stoves, according to tests that EnDev conducted.
The gef-funded and UNDP implemented programme Energy Efficient Production and Utilisation of Charcoal through Innovative Technologies has as an overall objective to reduce deforestation and greenhouse gas emission in Sierra Leone. As part of the project activities, the improved production of charcoal (improved charcoal kilns) and the dissemination of 300 industrial stoves for entrepreneurs, 700 stoves for social institutions and 14,000 improved household stoves is targetet until the end of 2019.
GIZ/EnDev is supporting the improved cook stove ("Wonder Stove") producer Westwind Energy. EnDev has tested the stoves on their efficiency and all stoves show at least 40% of reduction of fuel consumption. EnDev trains students on improved cooking technolgies and testing methods.
For more information on Biomass for electricity generation visit energypedia.
For more information on Improved Cooking visit energypedia.
1. UNDP, 2012. National Energy Profile pf Sierra Leone, s.l.: UNDP.
2. Renewable Energy Policy of Sierra Leone, 2016.
3. Statistics Sierra Leone, 2015 Population and Housing Census.