This plant will also be utilised as a power plant model, providing operations training and act as a research facility that will underpin the planned consequential expansion of bio-gas power plants throughout the region.
The cost of farming operations, in particular electricity and transportation, continue to escalate and this, coupled with the migration of people from rural to urban areas, is creating significant pressure on small scale farming in South Africa and making farming less and less attractive. This is detrimental to the farming community and to the economy as a whole.
An opportunity exists to construct smaller scale modular anaerobic digesters at local farm level which will produce biogas through the biodegradation of Napier grass which is both hardy and drought resistant. The biogas can be utilized for generating electricity, heating and cooking, as a fuel for vehicles and along with the recovery of significant volumes of water to produce NPK fertilizer for use on the farms as well.
The objective of the project is to prove the technology in a South African context and based on operational data produce a business model which can be rolled out to both small scale and commercial sugarcane growers. The testing of the power plant will produce data which confirms the production of the following outputs:
- Hot Water
- Biogas (for heating and cooking)
- Biogas vehicle fuel (CNG)
- NPK Fertilizer
- Carbon Dioxide
General & Environmental impacts
The project will provide a reduction in the utilization of fossil fuels through production of own fuel and electricity by utilizing the planting and cropping of dedicated Napier grass, a fast growing crop that can also be used as cattle fodder.
There is also the opportunity for local communities to have access to low cost gas and electricity to replace their use of fossil fuels and wood for heating, lighting and cooking.
The power project is intended to provide power to adjacent quarry and sand mining operations as well as a planned tea tree oil distillery, as well as to benefit the members of the local community with the creation of jobs and downstream business opportunities. The planned further roll out of similar projects will benefit the small growers and the agriculture industry as a whole by providing reduced operating costs, thereby ensuring sustainability of operations of small growers and assist in reducing the migration of rural communities to urban areas.
The intention of the opportunity is, through engagement with the South African Agricultural Associations and agencies, together with the company’s business network, to develop a sustainable business model which can be rolled out to as many of these farmers as possible and further expand the concept into the wider African continent.