Ethanol and renewable energy ‘the way forward’ in South Africa

South African sugar producer Tongaat Hulett (TH) has revealed biofuel and renewable energy production is becoming more of a concern for its future.

TH aims to complete a bid for an 80MW power plant this year as environmental impact assessments and construction contracting advance. This follows a decree at ministerial level to provide the country with 800MW of cogeneration power issued last December.

It is believed if the South African development community followed the Brazilian biofuels model over the next 20 years, with 60% of petrol being derived from ethanol and all growth in demand captured by ethanol, it would require approximately 120 new mills to produce a required 320,000 tonnes of sugar a year.

TH revealed that the South African sugar industry needs to develop framework which would allow current sugar exports to be converted into ethanol.

It is believed it would cost R700 million (€53 million) for TH to convert one of its mills into ethanol production, but would manufacture around 125 million litres annually.

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