Govt urged to boost biomass energy production

Govt urged to boost biomass energy production

By Chipo Musoko, HARARE, September 16 (The Source) – Government needs to come up with a regulatory framework to encourage companies to use biomass power to boost electricity production, a company said on Monday.

Hippo Valley Estates acting chairman, Herbert Munro told The Source that use of biomass presented long-term opportunities in power generation for the country. According to the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera), Hippo Valley and Triangle generate 40 megawatts from bagasse while Chisumbanje has a capacity to generate 18 megawatts.

“You need decent regulatory framework to encourage companies like ourselves to use biomass to generate electricity and sell it to the national grid,” said Munro.

He said all their sugar mills were generating power from biomass, but the company needed a framework to make it commercially attractive to invest in the business.

According to official statistics, biomass accounts for 61 percent of energy use in the country.

Power utility, Zesa is generating just over 1,300 megawatts against demand of 2,000MW.

Meanwhile, Hippo Valley’s profit after tax plunged 35 percent to $13.6 million in the full year to 31 March 2013, weighed down by an increase in finance costs.

Despite the decline in after tax profit, revenue surged 35 percent to $174 million buoyed by an increase in sugar production which improved 34 percent to 228 000 tonnes.

Domestic sales grew to 258 000 tonnes up from 247 000 tonnes last year, while a total of 202 000 tonnes were exported to the European Union.

Going forward, the company is targeting to increase sugar production to installed milling capacity of 640 000 tonnes per annum.

Hippo Valley said it remained optimistic water mitigation measures put in place and the likely completion of Tokwe-Mukosi dam this year would enable the industry to sustain the current levels of production.