Biofuels boost for small towns

13 April 2007

South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and Central Energy Fund (CEF) have identified five towns across the country to take part in a R3.2-billion biofuels project.

The project, which will be 49% owned by the IDC and 51% by the CEF and other investors, will be rolled out in the towns of Hoedspruit and Ogies in Mpumalanga, Mahkathini and Pondoland in KwaZulu-Natal and Cradock in the Eastern Cape.

IDC project manager Noel Kamrajh said this week that the projects in the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga were currently at a detailed engineering study level. “Both studies are due for completion in September, and construction is likely to start in January next year.”

Kamrajh said the towns would together produce around 1-billion litres of biofuels a year and contribute about 1.3% to South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP). The biofuels will cost between US$50 and $70 per barrel.

The Hoedspruit plant will make 100-million litres of biofuel a year from sugar cane, while the Ogies plant will make 150-million litres a year from maize. The maize will be bought from local farmers and traders as part of a community empowerment strategy.

The Cradock plant will produce 90-million litres of biofuel a year from sugar beets, while the Pondoland project will produce 150-million litres a year from sweet sorghum and sugar cane. The Makhathini plant will produce 100-million litres a year from cassava and sugar cane.

The government’s Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (Asgi-SA), which aims to raise economic growth and reduce poverty and unemployment, has identified the biofuels sector as a priority.

Biofuels, which can be mixed with conventional petrochemicals such as diesel, are seen as a viable and environmentally responsible resource for the provision of fuels, as fossil fuels take millions of years to form and significantly contribute to carbon emissions.

Source: BuaNews