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The Manufacture of Biofuels
This report focuses on the manufacture of biofuels, combustible fuels that are derived from biomass from agricultural products. Locally the production of biofuels, the majority of which is ethanol from sugar cane, amounts to approximately 130 barrels per day and contributes an estimated 0.1% to world production. Data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) confirms that the contribution of South Africa’s biofuels sector to foreign revenues is negligible at under R500m at today’s fuel prices. The local sector employs only around 200 people at present, not all of them involved directly in the manufacturing process.
Lack of Investment in the Sector
Investment into the industry has been hampered mainly by delays in finalising and implementing biofuels policies. The Biofuels Industrial Strategy of 2008 aimed to achieve a 2% penetration level of biofuels in the country’s liquid fuel supply by 2015. Crops proposed for bioethanol were sugar cane and sugar beet while sunflower, canola and soya beans were proposed for the production of biodiesel. The Department of Energy’s Final Position Paper on Biofuels, which is supposed to cover the mandatory blending of bio-ethanol and biodiesel with conventional fuels and should have come into effect in October 2015, has not yet been finalised. Another factor negatively affecting investment in the sector is the uncertainty caused by unsettled land claims especially in sugar farming areas.
The Manufacture of Biofuels focuses on the current state of the nascent domestic industry, international developments in the biofuels sector and factors influencing its success. The report also profiles five companies, including sugar giants Illovo Sugar Ltd and Tongaat Hulett Ltd which supply the sugar cane for ethanol production, and newcomer Mabele Fuels (RF) (Pty) Ltd, which aims to build a bio-ethanol-from-sorghum plant in Bothaville in the Free State.