Millers can make enough ethanol, says ministry

Published on 04/06/2009

By Winsley Masese

The six sugar companies can produce enough bio-ethanol to meet domestic demand and as a result reduce the oil import bill.

A senior official from the Ministry of Energy, Ms Faith Odongo, said the ministry was pushing for a new policy that would pave way for the production of bio-ethanol fuel from sugar cane by-products.

Speaking in Kisumu during a bioethanol strategy meeting, Odongo said Kenya’s total import bill of petroleum products increased by 7.1 per cent — from Sh 113.7 billion in 2006 to Sh 121.8 billion in 2007.

Odongo said Kenya does not have a sufficient energy supply for all its domestic needs and has to import the deficit, hence the need for a speedy development and implementation of a bio-ethanol production strategy.

In a draft Bioethanol Strategy Paper 2009/10 tabled at the meeting yesterday, the ministry called on all stake holders to support the campaign.

“The objective of this strategy is to develop the bio-ethanol industry with a view to reducing the import bill of petroleum product,” said ministry officials in the paper.

Odongo said the import bill is, however, likely to reduce if molasses from the country’s nine sugar millers is fully used into bio-ethanol.

Minimised expediture

“Introducing a 10 per cent bioethanol blend with petrol for motor vehicles and total displacement of kerosene with bio-ethanol would save the country about Sh24.4billion, amounting to 20 per cent total energy cost,” she said.

The use of bioethanol as a source of energy is also likely to preserve health of the population and consequently minimise expenditure on the medical bills.

“More than 68.3 per cent of all households use firewood, which is associated with respiratory tract illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis, but the use of bio-ethanol as a substitute will significantly reduce particulate pollutants,” Odongo said.

Ethanol requirement

Spectre International Ltd and Agrochemicals are the only two companies that produce ethanol from molasses, with 90 per cent of their products meant for export market.

“If the existing plants operate fully, ethanol production would amount to above or just 135 litres per day (40,000 tonnes per annum).

This will be enough for the ethanol requirement at E-10 mandate and 100 per cent market penetration in the transport industry,” the paper states.

Based on a 2007 consumption of petrol at 367,000 tonnes, the per capita consumption of gasoline estimated at 10.5 litres. A bioethanol blend of E-10 would therefore require 10 per cent of 367,000 tonnes if blending was to start.

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