Nonprofit organisation FairPlay has welcomed government’s decision to revive its biofuels strategy, stating that a mandatory bioethanol fuel blend will benefit the country through job creation, increased fixed investment, technology development and energy security, as well as expanded sugar production.
“It has been a long time coming and we hope this time it is for real. More than a decade ago, government committed to a biofuels strategy, which aimed at a mandatory blend of at least 2% ethanol in petrol.
“In 2015, the strategy provided for a mix of between 2% and 10%. Nothing happened, and the strategy was never implemented,” the organisation bemoaned.
While countries around the world are developing and implementing fuel ethanol policies, spurred by sharply rising oil prices, South Africa has been left behind.
Energy Minister Jeff Radebe at an energy conference earlier this month stated that government plans to finalise the biofuel blending regulatory framework and have it approved by Cabinet by the end of March 2019.
“This is welcome news for the country, the economy and particularly the sugar industry, which has been contracting in the face of surging sugar imports when it should have been growing and creating jobs,” said FairPlay.
Radebe plans an initial 2% blend, which will be enough to stimulate a distressed sugar industry. As the local fuel ethanol industry grows, it should be possible to increase the mandated blend to 10% or even higher as countries such as Brazil have done successfully.
A policy such as this has the potential to create 125 000 jobs in the ethanol industry, and 25 000 new jobs in the sugar industry.
Increasing use of fuel ethanol will also save the country millions of rands in oil imports, particularly if the oil price keeps rising.
FairPlay has been advocating a fuel ethanol policy for some time.
“The huge potential nationally and regionally of a fuel ethanol policy will be discussed at a conference in November – the Ethanol Action Summit, which will be a platform for private sector and public sector stakeholders to explore ways to drive growth and economic benefits from a fuel ethanol strategy.”
Radebe and the Department of Energy will be invited to the summit, to speak about the roadmap for implementation of the ethanol strategy.