Biofuels in South Africa – Current Situation

Two recent stories are I think indicative of where South Africa is in the biofuel market.

Sasol recently discussed their succeeding in being listed in the Dow Jones sustainability world index and gave an overview of their focus.


Sasol studies ‘new energy’ technologies with lower environmental impacts-1.jpg

from: Engineering News
(click image for full story online)


On the biodiesel project they have been publicising with the Central Energy Fund for some years now they stated that “there is not a very certain government framework at this point in time, which makes finalising a decision not very easy” even though the crude price is multiples of what it was in the beginning!

A recent article highlighted the discontent of commercial maize growers with the South African Governments decision to only allow the production of ethanol from excess maize.

Business Day - News Worth Knowing-1.jpg

from: Business Day
(click image for full story online)


These two stories reinforce what was obvious at the time the Biofuels Strategy was being actively developed – no one was going to be able to make a profitable business out of it without significant subsidisation from government.

The concern is that South Africa can now move away from first generation biofuels, but Africa seems to be getting deeper involved although the constrains are obvious.

The article below by the US Department of Agriculture at the end of 2007 has a good overview, but concludes that maybe there is still room for government to adjust its position. This has apparently not happened to date.

Republic of South Africa Biofuels Situation Update – Get more Legal Forms

2 Responses to Biofuels in South Africa – Current Situation

  1. Stephen Klaber says:

    In general, when something needs a subsidy renewal its not really the right thing to do. In ethanol, the problem is one of feedstock. Maize is an expensive plant to grow. All over Africa there is a biomass source causing you trouble: Aquatic weeds. Water Hyacinth, Water Lettuce and Typha clog your waterways, and desperately need repeated clearance. The kind of effort needed can only be sustained at a profit, which can be had by harvesting these plants for fuel and (in some places) food. Typha is a particularly good ethanol feedstock and can also be made into charcoal for more traditional markets. Water hyacinth and water lettuce can also be made into ethanol, but I’ve seen no yield statistics for them.

  2. banzatrade says:

    Bio-Ethanol is the solution of energy crisis. But It can be The Machine Feed. Population of human need more food for their life. Indonesia have the sources from poisoned cassava, one of varieties cassava, it’s names Ketela Mukibat, that contains high level of cyanide acid. It can be used for bio-ethanol because the productions higher than the others. It also can safe the food/feed resource.

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