Currently, the ethanol plant has the capacity to produce up to 18 MW of electricity, generated by steam from the boiler. This is adequate to electrify the entire south eastern region of Zimbabwe, up to Muture. The steam is produced from the burning of bagasse, or sugarcane fibre, and is therefore generated as long as the factory is producing ethanol. The plant effectively powers itself, utilising approximately 3MW electricity and leaving the balance to be exported. A 50km power line, financed jointly by Green Fuel and the ZETDC, costing approximately $2.5million, has been built to enable Green Fuel to export “green” electricity from this plant to the rest of Zimbabwe.
Plans are in place for an additional boiler and heavy-duty generator to increase electricity production to 53MW in the immediate future and, at the final stages of the project, 225MW of electricity will be generated from ethanol production, powering over 225,000 homes with green, sustainable electricity.
Bagasse, the fibre left over after the sucrose has been extracted from the sugar cane, is used in the boiler to generate steam, which in turn powers a turbine to produce electricity to power the plant.
It can also be used in the following processes, all of which play a significant role in reducing deforestation in the area:
- Fire briquettes
Bagasse can also be used to make briquettes which will ultimately replace wood in both rural and urban homes. This will address the issue of deforestation as well as create jobs and sustainable development in terms of the production and supply of the briquettes.
Cattle Feed – Bagasse, a by product of ethanol production, will be utilised as feed stock in order to reduce the cost to the community.
CO2 Gas is produced during the fermentation process and can be captured and used in carbonated drinks, welding to name a few. The Ethanol Plant produces carbon dioxide as a by-product of the manufacturing process, an important component in food and beverage production among other uses. The plant will be able to provide sufficient CO2 to supply the whole of Southern Africa.