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The continuously rising price of petroleum in the past decade and the progressive diminishing of fossil fuel reserves have triggered a number of global innovations in search of sustainable alternative energy sources such as biofuels. This has further been accelerated by the ever-increasing demand for fossil fuel in the world, and in the fast growing economies of China and India. Some countries, namely Brazil, USA and Western Europe, are in the forefront of the development of these alternative energy sources while others, Tanzania are just
new comers in this regard. They therefore need to learn carefully from the experiences of global leaders of the bio fuel industry to avoid mistakes and optimize benefts.
This project on the feasibility of large-scale biofuel production in Tanzania was conceived on June 28, 2007 through the efforts of the study team and the then Ambassador of Sweden to Tanzania, HE Torvald Åkesson. The same was endorsed by the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, and Sida through the Swedish Embassy agreed to finance the study which commenced in March 2008.
The study was undertaken by a multi-disciplinary team of 16 Tanzanian experts from the University of Dar es Salaam, Sokoine University of Agriculture and Ardhi University covering various fields, namely; engineering, agriculture, law, economics, commerce, land-use planning, environment, ecology, forestry, livestock.
Despite the ongoing disagreements, bio-fuel production and use are on the increase. About one out of every 40 cars and trucks in the United States can now run on a commercial mix of gasoline and ethanol, which is mostly made from corn. Ethanol enthusiasts, such as corn growers and the politicians who represent them, would like to see that number to rise. The growth in world grain consumption during the six years since 2000 averaged roughly 31 million tons per year. Of this growth, close to 24 million tons were consumed as food or feed.
The annual growth in grain used to produce fuel ethanol for cars in the United States alone averaged nearly 7 million tons per year, rising from 2 million tons in 2001 to 14 million tons in 2006
Brazil is an ethanol pioneer where actual production started as early as in the 1930s. Over the past three decades Brazil has worked to create ethanol as a viable alternative to gasoline. With its sugarcane-based fuel, Brazil started a serious ethanol program, in the 1970s, in response to the uncertainties of the oil market. Brazil now enjoys intermittent success; it is the second in the world after United States in terms of production volume of ethanol. Introduction of flex technology which allows petrol engines to run on any ratio of ethanol-petrol blend has
increased ethanol consumption in Brazil; ethanol from sugarcane accounts for over 20% of Brazil’s transport fuel market, and it is cheaper to drive on ethanol than on gasoline. Production of ethanol in Brazil is expected to increase to 18 billion liters a year by 2010. In Africa, initiatives are being made to plant Jatropha curcas and oil palm, among other feedstocks, for bio diesel production. Ethanol
is also produced in Africa with South Africa in the lead.
Tanzania is endowed with energy resources mix estimated at: 1,200 tons of coal of which 304 million tons are proven; 29.02 billion m3 of proven natural gas; 4.7 GW of macro- hydro (561 MW developed); 314 MW of mini hydro potential of which only 1.5% is developed; 150 MW of Geothermal (completely unexploited); 12 million TOE of biomass potential excluding biofuel; and a solar insolation of approximately 4.5 kW/km2/day. Due to under deployment of these energy sources, the commercial energy consumption is skewed in favour of imported
Petroleum importation consumes more than 30% of Tanzania’s foreign exchange earnings. The transport sector is the largest end user of imported petroleum fuels, consuming 40.5% of the total. Biofuel can have a direct use in the transport sector either in blended or in new generation flex technology. However, the advent of the biofuel has brought with it the debate on land issues, people’s welfare, food security and the environment. Thus, Tanzania needs to look into the biofuel business plantations prudently.
Sponsored by the Swedish Embassy in Tanzania
(The views and interpretations expressed in this report are of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Swedish Embassy in Tanzania or Sida)
The Study Team
Burton Mwamila, Kassim Kulindwa, Oscar Kibazohi, Hamudi Majamba, Hussein Mlinga, Domician Charlz, Marcelina Chijoriga, Abraham Temu, Geoffrey John, RPC Temu, Salim Maliondo, Susan Nchimbi-Msola, Zebedayo Mvena, Matovelo and John Lupala