Maputo — More than 30 biofuel projects are currently underway in Mozambique with a total investment of over 100 million US dollars.
According to Helio Neves, biofuel programme coordinator at the Agricultural Promotion Centre (CEPAGRI), an inventory is being carried out to determine the exact number and scale of the projects.
Biofuel projects can be approved at three official levels. A project can be approved at the provincial level if it covers an area of less than a thousand hectares. Between a thousand and ten thousand hectares approval must be sought from the Ministry of Agriculture. For large projects above ten thousand hectares approval must be gained from the Council of Ministers (Cabinet).
According to Neves, if all the existing projects become fully operational the country will save more than 682 million dollars per year through reduced fuel imports.
Neves stated that most of these projects are in the early stages and they are still studying the best variety of plant species to be grown in Mozambique.
Despite this, Neves believes that there will be enough ethanol and biodiesel to mix with fossil fuels, which will become mandatory next year.
From 2012, petrol (gasoline) will need to be mixed with ten per cent ethanol (to produce the fuel known as E10) and diesel will need to be mixed with three per cent biodiesel (producing B3).
As a result of this initiative the government expects to reduce fuel imports by 22 million dollars a year.
Neves pointed out that Petromoc (the publicly owned fuel company) has already reached agreement with producers for the supply of raw materials for the production of biodiesel from copra and jatropha.
He argued that in the case of ethanol, the country has an abundance of the raw material molasses due to the existence of sugar plantations at Marromeu, Mafambisse, Xinavane and Maragra.
The Mozambican government in 2009 approved a strategy for renewable energy that regulates the introduction of biofuels and identified coconut, jatropha, sugar cane and sorghum as the four crops that could be used. The strategy also lays down principles aimed at ensuring that biofuel policy does not lead to land conflict or threaten food production.