Local renewable energy company EECOFuels, which recently unveiled the first carbon neutral power station in Africa, believes its groundbreaking technology is the way to make Africa greener and take it off the grid.
The renewable waste to energy gasification plant, located in Honeydew, north-west of Johannesburg, and which was unveiled last month, is the result of many years of research and development by EECOFuels.
The company believes that the plant presents organisations in both the public and private sectors with a robust, economical and safe way of generating electricity from renewable resources, including solid waste.
MD Marcel Steinberg says this concept has been built elsewhere, but EECOFuels' homegrown technology is uniquely built for the African environment - it is robust, cost effective and easy to maintain.
The company has partnered with Nedbank Capital with a view to taking the concept to the rest of Africa.
According to Kevin Whitfield, head of Carbon Finance at Nedbank Capital, it was the carbon efficiency of this technology that first attracted Nedbank Capital to partner with EECOFuels .
Whitfield says the EECOFuels model has the potential to revolutionise the way in which energy is generated on the African continent.
“Creativity and innovative thinking are key drivers of developing the 'green' economy, and EECOFuels' gasification technology encompasses both,” he said at the recent unveiling of the EECOFuels plant in Honeydew.
Whitfield explains that it is Nedbank Capital's philosophy that innovative, carbon-effective solutions of the variety developed by EECOFuels require forward-thinking finance solutions to ensure they deliver maximum sustainable economic and social benefits.
“Nedbank Capital immediately recognised the potential inherent in the EECOFuels gasification solutions,” he says, “and we were more than happy to offer guidance and advice to the business owners on how best to harness this potential by leveraging the appropriate carbon-based finance solutions.”
Steinberg notes that the partnership proved pivotal to the eventual development and successful rollout of the new EECOFuels waste to energy plants.
He says Nedbank Capital's input on ways of meeting the funding requirements for this new technology in an appropriately “green” manner, has been invaluable.
He added they now plan to roll out the technology across Africa, and further afield, in the months and years ahead.
Steinberg told I-Net Bridge/BusinessLIVE that there has been huge interest in the technology and EECOFuels is currently working on several orders - both locally and elsewhere in Africa.
“If we do our job well, Africa will be greener and off the grid in no time,” he says.
He adds that the company's existing client base is large corporate, mining houses and agricultural businesses. “All of our clients have ambitions to move into Africa and we are a huge part of their expansion plans. If there is no power, there is no growth,” he says.
Steinberg says the costs involved in developing the renewable waste to energy gasification plants is roughly a quarter of an equivalent coal power station.
He believes that this is the way to go for South Africa, where the cost of infrastructure often outweighs the cost of generation.
“This means rural electrification stays a dream and can't become a reality. We say - make the power where you need it.”
Steinberg points to the vital role the gasification plants has to play, not only in reducing the burden from government of meeting fast-growing South African energy demands, but also as an effective, low-carbon means of disposing of waste.
“The fact that EECOFuels gasification plants can be placed anywhere that there is a need for waste to energy generation means they operate independently of infrastructure requirements and there is no need for the transportation of feedstock for the process,” he explains.
“And when one combines this with the proprietary gasification technology that emits less carbon than it consumes, the EECOFuels solution is not just carbon neutral, it is, in fact, carbon negative,” he concludes.