By Ndakaziva Majaka
Green Fuel is moving to ramp up ethanol production at its Chisumbanje site through a hectarage increase exercise anticipated to see the group with about 13 000 hectares (ha) of land by year end, one of its shareholders has said.
Arda chairman Basil Nyabadza told the businessdaily that Green Fuel —the only company presently licensed to produce ethanol for fuel purposes was embarking on the land increase programme to surpass its 120 million litres per annum capacity.
“We have also opened additional fields so that we grow our hectarage from 10 000 ha to 12 000 ha then maybe 13 000 by the end of 2016.
“The main aim behind all this is to meet the increasing local demand for fuel,” he said.
Nyabadza noted that the group was investing in irrigation and pumping infrastructure to meet the anticipated production increase.
“We are now seeing a better usage of water, so we are installing a new system of accessing water from the river and it’s working well.
“At the end of the day the company also wants to increase its electricity generation capacity from the current 18 megawatts,” the Arda boss said, adding the company produces the electricity as a by-product enough to power 30 000 households and relieve the national grid.
As per Statutory Instrument 17 of 2013, which states that ethanol purchased for the purposes of mandatory blending shall be obtained from licensed ethanol producers in a joint venture partnership with government through Arda, has a 10 percent shareholding in Green Fuel.
The other shareholders are businessman Billy Rautenbach’s Macdom and Ratings Investments.
Reports indicate that government is working to acquire 51 percent shareholding in Green Fuel as per the country’s indigenisation and economic empowerment policy.
Green Fuel, which had invested over $300 million into the ethanol project since 2009, produces 120 million litres of anhydrous ethanol per year as at October 2015.
To satisfy the local mandatory blending policy of 15 percent, the company reportedly produces up to seven million litres of ethanol per month, a figure expected to rise significantly on the back of a land increase.
While in 2013, government unilaterally decided to enforce mandatory blending of petroleum products, claiming it would bring down prices and reduce the country’s import bill, the fuel ethanol sector remains closed to other producers.
Tongaat Hullet’s Zimbabwean unit Hippo Valley (Hippo) has applied for the licence and according to the group’s chief executive Sydney Mutsambiwa, the company is engaging government over the matter. Daily News