Mandatory fuel blending for Zim
Harare – Zimbabwe will enforce mandatory ethanol blending following the resumption of operations at a production facility in the east of the country.
Production at Green Fuel’s sugar estate and ethanol plant in Manicaland Province was mothballed last year after members of the country’s coalition government failed to agree on the project’s national status.
Members of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party opposed the project and blocked mandatory ethanol blending. This resulted in Green Fuel – which represents the largest single infrastructure project in Zimbabwe since Independence in 1980 – finding itself stuck with millions of litres of ethanol.
Last week, Vice President Joice Mujuru, from President Robert Mugabe’s party, issued a directive that operations resume to save the livelihoods of thousands of employees and their dependants.
Blending of all fuel will become mandatory. All fuel will have 10 percent ethanol, which theoretically means cutting the fuel import bill by that percentage.
Economic analyst Takunda Mugaga said mandatory blending would provide sustainable reserves of renewable energy and save much foreign currency.
“This is obviously welcome in terms of the economic activity that would be generated but I think in the long term we have to come up with a long term policy on how we could harness the various sources of renewable energy that we have in abundance in the country.
“We have plenty of sunshine that can be harnessed as solar energy, we can also use biogas and the ethanol can also go a long way in improving our economy and averting the shortages that we have been experiencing in the past decade,” Mugaga said.
The sugarcane estate and ethanol plant employ more than 7 000 people and when complete will have cost US$600 million to establish.
Green Fuel production manager Engineer David Muwandi said: “We have started recalling our employees and after that we will do some refresher courses because most of them have not been doing this job for a long time. We have projected to start actual production on April 4.”
Eng Muwandi said the plant can produce an average of 150 000 litres of ethanol daily.
“We are in the process of upgrading our machinery and soon we will be producing between 200 000 litres and 250 000 litres daily,” he said.
Green Fuel assistant GM Raphael Zuze said re-opening the plant was a process.
“Those who harvest the sugarcane should come first before the plant starts to run. We are still attending to logistical and administrative issues.”