Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Zesa in power purchase agreement

Zesa in power purchase agreement

Thursday, 02 June 2011 19:30

ETHANOL fuel company, Green Fuel, is on the verge of concluding a power 
purchase agreement with Zesa which will see 18,5 megawatts of electricity, 
enough to power the entire Manicaland province, being fed into the national 
grid from the company’s ethanol plant in Chisumbanje.

The agreement represents the first major private sector power injection into 
the national grid. Green Fuel is the first large-scale ethanol producing 
factory in Africa and the plant itself is new technology within Zimbabwe. 
The electricity generation is a by-product of Green Fuel’s core business, 
which is the production of ethanol fuel from sugar cane.  The Chisumbanje 
plant puts Zimbabwe at the forefront of renewable fuel on the African 

Green Fuel General manager Graeme Smith revealed that the power feed is 
pencilled for commencement this winter, with an initial offload of 18,5 
megawatts from the first ethanol plant at Chisumbanje, to be commissioned 
soon. The electricity will be generated from bagasse, a by-product of 
ethanol production, in a way similar to how coal-fired electricity is 
generated. Bagasse is the fibre left over after the juice has been squeezed 
out of sugarcane stalks.

The bagasse from cane at Chisumbanje will be fed into the boiler to burn and 
generate electricity in sufficient quantities to power Green Fuel’s ethanol 
plant with the excess then being fed into the Zesa power distribution 

“We are hoping to start the power feed this July with an output of 18,5 
megawatts after the commissioning of our ethanol plant. We are also 
concluding  power purchase arrangements with Zesa for three of these bagasse 
fuelled power plants in the next phase of our ethanol project –– two at 
Chisumbanje and one at Middle Sabi –– bigger in capacity, each with an 
output of 35 megawatts, to put our total power offload into Zesa at 120 
megawatts,” Smith said.

“Further to this, our associate company, Boabab Energy, is set to put up 
between five and 10 of these power stations –– to be coal fired.  We have 
built one power station already at Chisumbanje, and managed to build the 
components locally –– we are therefore confident of a successful rollout 
programme for these coal-fuelled power stations throughout other parts of 
the country where we have coal deposits,” Smith added.

For the past 18 months, 800 Green Fuel technicians have been working around 
the clock in the construction phase of the plant to ensure that it will be 
operating by this winter, ready to start processing over 5 000 hectares of 
sugarcane into high quality anhydrous ethanol.

There are three phases to the current Ethanol plant
and three phases to the overall project development, being the construction 
of three Ethanol Plants. The current phase of the first plant will require 11 500ha and will produce 350 000 litres a day of ethanol for 300 days, which equates to just over a 100 million litres annually. Phase two will progress to 150 million litres a year and 250 million litres in phase three.

The backbone of the whole project lies in vast swathes of cane grown on 
Chisumbanje and Middle Sabi estates, ahead of the plant commissioning this 
year. A total 5 000ha of sugar cane have been planted to date at Chisumbanje and Middle Sabi.

Sugar cane ethanol is a success story in many countries worldwide — from the US and Brazil to Europe, China and the Far East — and is considered to be the fuel of the future.  Worldwide ethanol production in 2009 reached over 
75 billion litres, representing a 64% increase in two years.

The production and use of ethanol benefits the economy on many levels from 
job creation and employment in agriculture and technology, to the 
availability of clean, renewable, affordable fuel at the pump.


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