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Ethanol fuel project faces further delay

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PressaCane Limited, a subsidiary of Press Corporation Limited (PCL), says it still waiting for government, through the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) to make a decision on the pricing model to be adopted for ethanol fuel before it can begin production.

Over a year ago, stakeholders and top ethanol producers made a proposal to price ethanol at a market price 20 percent lower than the price of petrol but government has not yet endorsed the proposal.

PressCane Limited General Manager, Christopher Guta, said that the company has already engaged Mera, which has also roped in the services of a consultant to evaluate the economic viability of the project and cost of production.

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“The consultant was hired through an open tendering process and the consulting firm is KPMG. The consultant has been coming to PressCane establishments for them to see and relate the pricing model to cost of production,” Guta said.

He added that Mera is taking the lead in ensuring that the decision that would be taken by government and passed on to PressCane as producers is based on solid foundation in terms of information.

The production move, according to PressCane Limited is expected to complement government’s efforts to reduce the country’s dependence on petroleum fuels and move to cleaner energy sources.

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“We are at an advanced stage and this will materialise. We want to set up production plants in Chikwawa, where PressCane is located and then Dwangwa where Ethanol Limited is located and other areas where sugar is produced,” Guta said.

He said that prospects are that Malawi would be one of the few countries in the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) Region producing Ethanol fuel.

“Of course consultations are still on going on other matters pertaining to ethanol driven vehicles because government is the main player in this issue. As PressCane and Ethanol Limited through Puma Malawi, we are still consulting,” Guta stated.

Presscane Limited produces ethanol from sugarcane biomass, a by-product of the sugar manufacturing process.

Malawi is currently able to produce a maximum of 36 million litres of ethanol per annum. Of this, only 20 million litres is used for blending with petrol.

The Malawi Government is promoting ethanol driven cars to wean the country off its fossil fuel dependency and better harness the country’s ethanol industry.

This is part of Malawi’s ongoing drive to find alternative and cheap sources of fuel to replace imported fossil fuels.

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