Feasibility Assessment of Converting Sugar Mills to Bioenergy Production in Africa

In this work, we use simulations to explore the impact of ethanol and electricity production in an existing sugar mill in Mozambique. In spite of the large amounts of energy obtained from ambitious scenarios, such as Ethanol-2 and Ethanol/EE, molasses-based ethanol (Ethanol-1 scenario) seems more attractive in economical and infrastructural terms.
4 months ago

Authors: Manoel Regis Lima Verde Leal, João Guilherme Dal Belo Leite, Mateus Ferreira Chagas, Rui da Maia and Luís Augusto Barbosa Cortez

 

Journal Title: Agriculture

 

ISSN: 2077-0472 (Online)
 
Publisher: MDPI AG
 
Abstract
 
World sugar production has consistently overrun demand in the past five years. Moreover, in 2017 the European Sugar Regime will expire, ending the quota system and preferential sugar prices, largely affecting small producers, particularly in Africa. Diversification emerges as an option for sugar-oriented mills. Two evident alternatives are ethanol and electricity production that allow better use of molasses and cane fibers, respectively. Molasses is the cheapest feedstock for ethanol production, while the cane fibers, in the form of bagasse, are readily available at the mill. The transition from sugar to sugar, ethanol and electricity may require substantial investment capital, yet our results show that significant progress can start at relatively small cost.
 
In this work, we use simulations to explore the impact of ethanol and electricity production in an existing sugar mill in Mozambique. In spite of the large amounts of energy obtained from ambitious scenarios, such as Ethanol-2 and Ethanol/EE, molasses-based ethanol (Ethanol-1 scenario) seems more attractive in economical and infrastructural terms. High opportunity costs for molasses, low oil prices and enabling institutional conditions, such as mandatory blending mandates, to promote bioenergy remain a challenge.
 
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

Illustration Photo: Crushing sugar cane at a Raízen mill, Brazil (credits: Shell / Flickr Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0))

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