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Biofuels answer to fuel woes—expert

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John Taulo

Energy expert John Taulo has challenged the government to implement recommendations of a recent study which confirmed that bioethanol can be used as a motor vehicle fuel.

This came out during the recent Annual Energy Conference in Mangochi District.

Taulo, who is also Head of Energy Resources Department at the Malawi University of Science and Technology, said biofuels can quickly solve Malawi’s problems because the nation suffers for not having a refinery, thereby importing all the fuels.

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He added that biofuels or bioethanol are one of the solutions that have been accepted to solve such challenges.

“We, as a nation, ran our trials on bioethanol running motor vehicles. When I was at Lilongwe Technical College, the National Commission for Science and Technology (NCST) financed this study and it proved that we can run most vehicles using bioethanol,” Taulo said.

Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) spokesperson Fitina Khonje said currently fuel suppliers are allowed to blend 80 percent petroleum with 20 percent ethanol.

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“We are already doing the blending but perhaps the issue of sustainable supply of the ethanol has been the issue. If the suppliers of petrol have enough ethanol, they always blend according to the law but if there is no ethanol they cannot blend. As regards using 100 percent ethanol for vehicles, you may wish to talk to NCST,” Khonje said.

NCST acting Director General Gift Kadzamira said not all the recommendations that were submitted to Cabinet after the ethanol project were seen to be viable for implementation.

“The recommendations made to Cabinet for approval in the project were that the government should put in place appropriate measures and incentives to increase ethanol production,” Kadzamira said.

The country has in recent months been experiencing fuel shortages owing to, among other factors, foreign exchange shortages in the country.

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