Biofuel draft policy released

The long-awaited draft paper on biofuel pricing rules and regulations has been released for comment by the Department of Energy, Business Day reported.

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If passed, the bill means the SA biofuels industry can leave the starting blocks and potentially offer a welcome shot in the arm to the flagging sorghum industry.

From October 2015, oil refineries would be required to blend fuel with 2% of locally produced bioethanol. While sorghum and soybean have been approved for use as a feedstock, maize has been banned to alleviate food security concerns.

An estimated 250 million litres of bio-ethanol would be needed annually to supply demand. However, the refinery industry has had little time to tackle the changes needed to adapt, which include making infrastructural upgrades to refineries.

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The compulsory 2% blending is potentially a major source of employment and economic development.

Mabele Fuels, SA’s first licensed bio-ethanol project, will start construction as soon as the Bill is passed. The site, based in Bothaville in the Free State, will use sorghum as feedstock.