Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Renewal Energy blazes the trail on biomass

Renewal Energy (PTY) Ltd, T/a Biogas, the biomass energy company, leapt to government support for the new energy strategy by launching the first ever biogas plant in the country.

The move is aimed at cushioning the country’s energy crisis which has been sparked by greater demand and lack of capacity from power providers within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

The SADC region, including Botswana, DRC, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, have been inundated with problems of power outages, which threaten to reverse the economic progress that has been made so far. The move is likely to put pressure on inflationary spikes that are already worsened by fuel costs.

Ranku Rang Nathan, the managing director of Renewal Energy, praised the innovative idea at the launch of the product at Cumberland Hotel in Lobatse last week, saying that biogas has been proven to be a long term low cost energy solution and helped in securing the energy security of the country.

The pilot project was first run at the Cumberland Hotel and it is designed in a way that it can utilize all waste generated from the hotel kitchen.
“This has provided this hotel with an effective waste management solution and reduced its dependence on LGP by 40 percent. The hotel will recover the cost of the project within 20 months,” he said.

The bio by-product can then be used as organic fertilizer for gardens and be sold to local farmers as an alternative to chemical fertilizer.

“Renewable Energy (PTY) Ltd has well customized products that will provide solutions which meet each customer’s economic means by bottling biogas which can then be used as an alternative fuel for diesel and petrol engines,” said Raghesh Nair, the Marketing Director for Renewable Energy (PTY) Ltd.

The Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, punched the air at the ceremony stating that the initiative is in line with the national vision.

“This pioneering effort cannot go unnoticed, especially that they come at a time when the nation, and indeed the whole region, is grappling with power outages,” he said.

He said the move can help secure the energy security of the country and has the potential to save millions in valuable foreign exchange.

“The versatility of biogas is its greatest advantage as a source of energy for the country’s energy needs. This is a decentralized system which can be installed even in remote areas at very low investment,” he stated.
Kedikilwe said biogas technology is best suited to convert the organic waste from agriculture, livestock, industries, municipalities and other human activities into energy and manure. In assessing the economic viability of biogas, the Minister pointed out that it is useful to distinguish between four main areas of application namely, individual household units, community plants, large scale commercial animal rearing operations and industrial projects.

“The national vision advocates for innovation for Botswana to shape their future, and also recognizes that an environment of expanding opportunities is a pre-requisite for reducing unemployment,” he said.

But the new developments are well positioned to make Botswana a competitive country in terms of commerce, especially when the World Trade Organisation (WTO)’s measures come into effect in the next 15 years. That will help in the economic diversification of the country as it could trade intellectual rights at the time when the diamond mining is expected to be getting depleted. This is another major milestone by the ministry following the diamond cutting, marketing and polishing industry.

Kedikilwe said this is also in line with President Ian Khama’s inauguration speech when he stated: “Government cannot alone bring about change. I also expect the private sector to do much more in support of the change process, especially in areas such as innovation, staff training and skills development.”
Presently, the Department of Energy is developing biomass energy strategy for Botswana. This is a strategy which aims at a social, economical and environmentally sound supply and use of resources. The strategy will determine the interventions, strategies and line of action by which this goal can be achieved in Botswana.

This self-funded venture has designed and constructed systems which are suitable for households, and each plant is designed to provide cooking gas for a family on a daily basis. The company so far has employed three expatriates and 10 local workers which is a contribution towards reducing unemployment in this country. The cost of installation ranges between P8 000 to P10 000.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.