Hinterland Green

Monday, October 5, 2009

Study: Sugar Cane Could Supply Electricity to Mozambique by Producing Biomass-Fired Energy

A new study, “A Clean Energy Plan for Mozambique”,  from Mark Hankins, a renewable energy consultant, to be released at the Sandton Solar Energy Conference in October, states that there is significant potential for green biomass in Mozambique, with five large sugar farms that could generate electricity from cane waste. The country could supply electricity to a greater percentage of its population by producing biomass fired energy.

This year Mozambican sugar mills estimate they will produce 419 000 metric tonnes of sugar, which is a a 68% increase on 2008. According to the Mail & Guardian Online, environmentalists have said the waste from this and other resources could see the country become a regional leader in biomass-fired electricity. Converting sugar waste into biofuel could create another 60MW to be available on the grid and could extend electrification into rural areas.

Sadly, Mozambique is hesitant to take up that challenge, instead it has chosen to back a $2-billion (R14.8-billion) dam on the Zambezi, 70km from Cahora Bassa at Mphanda Nkuwa. According to the Mail & Guardian Online, the dam will mostly serve South Africa’s energy needs. It has come under criticism from environmentalists, who said it will contribute to water shortages Southern Africa is expected to experience in the next few years because of global warming.

Mozambique exports electricity from Cahora Bassa to Eskom and then reimports it for use in southern Mozambique, with high rates of energy loss during the process. Approximately 85% of Mozambicans living without electricity. This latest study details how Mozambique could develop an energy supply system based on clean-energy options that are low-cost, rapidly implementable and suited to the geographical distribution of local demand.

Photo credit: Sugar cane, Environmental News Network
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