“Fireside chats”: Christian Rakos on his new position as President of the World Bioenergy Association
Dr Christian Rakos, long-time managing director of the Austrian Pellet Association, was recently appointed president of the World Bioenergy Association. We asked him.
RIKA: What part does bioenergy actually play in energy supply?
Dr Rakos: About one third of the energy we use in Austria is renewable. 60% of this renewable energy is bioenergy and is mainly obtained by using wood produced by forestry, forest management or as a by-product of wood processing. These include wood pellets, which are particularly common in our country. We are also technically world leaders in the use of pellets – both in pellet stoves and pellet boilers.
The use of bioenergy accounts for around 60% of the total renewable energy used in Europe too. At global level, this contribution is over 70%. Bioenergy therefore plays a significant part and is likely to be the most important energy source we use by 2050. Today, these are oil, natural gas and coal.
RIKA: What does the World Bioenergy Association do?
Dr Rakos: The World Bioenergy Association is committed to expanding the sustainable use of bioenergy. We want to make an important contribution to climate protection. This also means replacing unsustainable forms of bioenergy use. I'll give you an example: cooking on an open fire with firewood or charcoal has serious health consequences for the women and children standing in the smoke for hours. With over a billion people cooking like this in Africa, there is also massive deforestation. Pellets made from agricultural residue such as straw, rice husks and the like can be burned in pyrolysis cookers completely smoke-free – a huge advantage for people as well as for nature and climate protection, because this could stop deforestation. The World Bioenergy Association is working to publicise this new technology and promote its introduction. I am delighted that RIKA is actively supporting us in this!
Another important aspect of our work is to communicate the importance of bioenergy and the great opportunities that modern bioenergy use brings to policy makers. This is what we are striving for, especially in global forums such as the World Climate Conference.
RIKA: What does the election as president of the World Bioenergy Association mean to you?
Dr Rakos: The offer to head the World Bioenergy Association came as a complete surprise to me. I am now really thrilled to be able to perform this honorary task, because I enjoy international cooperation very much and can therefore hopefully make a constructive constructive contribution to climate protection.
RIKA: What are the duties associated with this position? What are the opportunities & possibilities?
Dr Rakos: The World Bioenergy Association is an association with very modest resources today. My job is therefore primarily to create initiatives that are perceived as meaningful and valuable. Then we can convince companies and associations that it is worth being a member of the World Bioenergy Association and strengthen the association's financial basis as a result. This in turn expands our opportunities to create initiatives, resulting in the benefits and resources feeding off each other, if it works.
RIKA: What are your personal challenges and goals?
Dr Rakos: Personally, my new role is challenging for me in that I am doing it alongside my work as Managing Director of proPellets Austria and Save Energy Austria Gmbh – a subsidiary of proPellets. So there is a lot to do. On the other hand, it is also very nice to be able to work with so many great people around the world in the field of bioenergy.
My goal is to develop the World Bioenergy Association into an organisation that contributes to the task for all mankind of managing our planet in such a way that it continues to provide a basis for the existence of our grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well as of the many other living beings.
RIKA: We congratulate you on this honorable position, wish you all the best and thank you for the interview!
About Christian Rakos: As a qualified physicist, Christian Rakos has spent his entire professional life working on the use of renewable energy, first at the Institute for Technology Assessment at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, then at the Austrian Energy Agency and finally as Managing Director of the Austrian Pellet Association. He was the founding president of the European Pellet Association as well as a board member of the Forum of Austrian Scientists for Environmental Protection and the Austrian Society for Environment and Technology. Christian Rakos is also active on the board of the Austrian Biomass Association and the umbrella association Renewable Energy Austria.
About the World Bioenergy Association: The association has its registered office in Stockholm. It was founded in 2008 with the aim of promoting the sustainable use of bioenergy on a global scale and advocating for political framework conditions that make this possible. The association has around 260 members from over 50 countries and is involved in political forums such as the UN climate conferences or the G20 summit.