Ministry of Science &Technology

Development 17th Floor,

Livingstone House ,48

Samora Machel Ave,

Harare Tel;04-794117




Chisumbanje Ethanol Plant Tour

The US$600 million project is a joint venture between Arda and private investors, Macdom and Rating in which after 20 years the Chisumbanje and Arda Estates are handed back to Arda. Mr Smith said in less than 10 years the plant will have the capacity to produce ethanol that will substitute 100% all petroleum requirements in the country.



He further highlighted that vehicles could run on up to 95% ethanol. A minor adjustment i.e. placing a flex fuel conversion kit link on the engine to enhance oxygen intake into the pistons is only required to make an ordinary petrol vehicle run on 95% ethanol. The flexi link could be easily imported and sold at around USD40 per unit. He indicated that the country could save up to US$2 million of revenue a day if ethanol is fully exploited. The plant is currently processing 5 000 tonnes of sugar cane daily producing 150 000liters of ethanol. When fully functional the plant will be able to produce 750 000liters of ethanol daily.

 Mr Smith indicated that the ethanol production system is renewable and environmental friendly. Carbon produced from burning the ethanol is recaptured by the sugar cane in the fields. This is a typical carbon credit system as more carbon is being captured than the one being emitted into the atmosphere said Mr Smith.

Besides ethanol production, the plant has other by-products such as animal feeds and electricity. Mr Smith said the plant is currently generating 7 megawatts of electrical power with the plant only requiring 2 megawatts with the remainder available for export.Feeding power into the grid is not yet happening since there still feed-in-tariff regulatory issues to be addressed. Mr Smith said the project has also created employment for local residents. A total 4 500 people are employed directly and indirectly through ethanol production with 278 working in the plant. Of the 278 working in the plant only 2 are foreigners. 

One of the major challenges the project is facing which has hindered its further development is the availability of water sources. The major source of water nearby is the Osborne Dam. Mr Smith said building the Kondo Dam which will be hydropower generating is the solution that is viable. Sustainability of marketing and sale of the ethanol is the other challenge being faced by the project. According to Mr Smith getting the ethanol to the consumer is the problem as 10 million litres of ethanol have been generated to date but are still in storage. He said if the problem persists the only option would be to close down the project as it would not be sustainable.  

Green Fuel is currently distributing ethanol for blending at 10% (E10) and wants to increase to 20% (E20) by June this year with the hope of substituting petroleum with 100% ethanol which will save the country revenue.


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