Consulting engineering company Bosch Projects is undertaking the largest greenfield sugar project in Angola.
Bosch Projects signed a multimillion-dollar contract with Japanese trading com- pany Marubeni Corporation on April 24 to undertake this project, which entails the design of a sugar and ethanol factory in Angola that will process 20 000 t/d of cane to produce 100 International Commission for Uniform Methods of Sugar Analysis (Icumsa) white sugar and ethanol from molasses, says Bosch Projects MD Bill Yeo.
The sugar manufacturing project is located in the developing and deeply rural Cunene province and is expected to be completed over a three-year period, he adds.
Bosch Projects states that the sugar and ethanol plant, together with a 44 000 ha agricultural estate, forms part of the Angola government’s plan to stimulate economic growth in the region.
“In addition to the production of 100 Icumsa refined sugar for local consumption, fuel-grade and potable ethanol will also be produced for the local market,” Yeo states.
The project’s scope of work includes front-end engineering design, commissioning management and the management of the operation’s training programme.
Bosch Projects states that construction on the project has not started yet, but estimates that about 1 500 people will be employed during the peak of the project.
Bosch Projects further states that governments are putting more pressure on the sugar industry to eliminate the burning of sugar cane. “This practice is becoming less and less environmentally tolerable and, in this regard, Bosch Projects promotes green-cane harvesting, which eliminates the burning process,” says Yeo.
An integral part of the design of the sugar factory Bosch Projects is developing is cogeneration, where the excess bagasse, the by-product of sugar cane manufacture, is burnt to generate electricity.
“This is free electricity, as the bagasse is already available,” says Yeo.
“Bosch Projects incorporates green-cane harvesting into its sugar factory design, which alleviates environmental pressure. The trash, generated from the leaves and tops of the cane, is used to produce green energy,” he stresses.
Yeo adds that Bosch Projects also reduces the labour costs of sugar projects by increasing the amount of automation in a factory according to clients’ needs.
“In Africa, where jobs are scarce, the level of automation is somewhat reduced to create jobs for the masses of unemployed people.”
Further, the company states that the sugar crop in South Africa has been in steady decline over the past ten years, creating less demand for the services of the consulting engineering sector in the country.
“However, a positive spin-off from this decline is that manufacturers are considering ways to make sugar processing more efficient and to implement cogeneration. These two aspects have increased the opportunities for consulting engineering in this sector in South Africa,” Yeo states.
He adds that skills shortages are another concern. In response to this problem, the company opened a subsidiary company, Bosch Ulwazi, which is an academy that provides services for organisations in the areas of skills development, enterprise development, socioeconomic development, human resources development and mentorship training.
Bosch Projects’ in-house energy and mass balance programme determines an optimised factory configuration to export surplus bioenergy, the company states.
“We have successfully used this programme to improve more than 120 factories in various sectors worldwide,” says Yeo.
He adds that the programme focuses on cogeneration and energy conversion processes which have the potential for long-term, environmentally sound sustainability.
“Bioethanol and bioelectricity produced from sugar cane are excellent examples of this model and are well within our capabilities. We receive an average of two to three enquiries a month to undertake similar projects,” states Yeo, adding that revenue can be generated for factories from more than one product stream.
Further, the consulting engineering company is cur- rently installing a power generation plant for one of South Africa’s major pulp and paper producers and is also involved in several developing projects involving the conversion of wood waste to energy.
These plants will generate electricity by using forestry and saw mill wood waste that would usually go to waste.
Yeo states that, while the capital costs of the projects are high, their electricity generation potential makes them viable.
Yeo notes a prominent need in the energy industry is negotiation assistance between those who have the potential to generate electricity and the government or statutory bodies that buy and distribute it.
“Bosch Projects can assist by liaising between the parties and by sourcing capital for these projects,” he concludes.