Developer initiates study into $330m Moz bioenergy project

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A newly established Mozambican agroindustrial company has issued a request for expressions of interest (EoI) from consulting engineering companies to carry out a study into a possible $330-million bioenergy and food project in the Southern African country’s Manica province.

The developer, Envalor Lda, envisages a facility capable of producing 150-million litres of anhydrous fuel-grade ethanol, for export and domestic consumption. The company notes that the demand for ethanol as a vehicle fuel is growing and that the European Union alone could face a yearly ethanol deficit of up to 7,5-billion litres by 2020.

The proposed plant would employ sugar cane as the primary feedstock and sweet sorghum as a secondary feedstock.

Also under consideration, is a 32-MW/h electricity facility fuelled by bagasse, of which 22 MW/h would be employed for bioethanol production, while the balance would be fed to the national grid. The proposed site is reportedly in “fairly close” proximity to existing transmission infrastructure.

The project could also produce 10 000 t/y of dry soya beans and create 1 800 jobs.

Envalor calculates that some 25 000 ha of cultivated land would have to be developed to deliver feedstock to the plant and produce the food crops.

The total project cost is estimated at around $330-million, but these cost assumptions require confirmation.

The EoI invitation, which has been advertised in South African newspapers, is for engineering firms capable of completing a technical and economic evaluation of the conceptual design, which would be sufficient for the formulation of an engineering, procurement and construction bidding process.

Such expression should be submitted by November 29, 2010, and qualifying consultants will receive a request for proposals.

Envalor itself is associated with Infraco, a donor-financed project development company, which seeks to stimulate private investment in African and Asian infrastructure projects.

It already has a number of energy, water and transport projects under way in Africa, including a wind-energy project in Cape Verde, an irrigated farm development, in Zambia and a gas-fired power plant in Ghana.

In Mozambique, Infraco is also playing a lead role in developing the so-called ‘investment blueprint’ for the Beira Agricultural Growth Corridor (BAGC). The BAGC, which was formally launched in early 2010, is a partnership between governments, private investors and donor agencies aimed at boosting agricultural productivity in Mozambique.

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