Posted by Ugochukwu Chimeziri on
The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), charged to attain maximum utilisation of agricultural residue in the country....
The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), charged to attain maximum utilisation of agricultural residue in the country, has established an ethanol programme aimed at exploring the organic resource for generation of fuel for the nation.
Mr. Funsho Kupolokun, NNPC group managing director, said the programme is expected to augment the nation’s inadequate crude oil refining capacity and maximise energy generation from organic matter.
He said the programme would save the country up to N16.9 billion ($130 million) yearly from the overall annual cost of importation of fuel.
There would be remarkable reduction in domestic use of petrol since some new automobiles would begin to use the alternative energy source, thus creating room for export of more crude oil.
This programme will position Nigeria for the development of green fuels in the long-term.
The corporation has created ‘renewable energy division’ to monitor and ensure the success of the programme.
In a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between NNPC and Jigawa State Government where the first project is taking off, NNPC is targeting to produce 100 million litres of ethanol. To achieve this would require at least 80,000 metric tonnes of sugarcane annually as raw materials. This project is expected to generate employment for citizens of Jigawa State and create wealth. It would in addition, bring about transfer of technology and best farm management practices.
Kupolokun said the corporation would use the programme to explore sources of biomass that can be used to produce fuel ethanol.
Apart from the MoU which NNPC has entered with Jigawa which centres on a large plantation site of over 20,000 hectares at Agufa village for the large scale production of cassava and sugar cane for the project, NNPC has also worked out plans to acquire farmlands in Anambra, Benue and Cross River states for large scale cultivation of cassava which would as well serve as raw materials for the biomass project.
The Earth Policy Institute says sugarcane is by far the most efficient raw material for production of ethanol, “yielding eight times as much energy as is needed to produce the ethanol”. The programme is expected to engender large scale cassava and sugar cane production.
Ethanol has been known to man as the intoxicating ingredient used in alcoholic beverages but is currently produced as a petrochemical through the hydration of ethylene.
Brazil is currently the world leader in use of ethanol for fuel generation, with a production capacity of 14 billion litres, which is about 40 per cent of its domestic gasoline demand. Indeed ethanol is 40 per cent of Brazil’s energy requirement annually, and most new cars in the country are “flexible-fuel vehicles” running on ethanol, gasoline or blend of the two. A total of 29,000 filling stations around the country are equipped with the facilities to dispense ethanol.
United States is another leading producer of ethanol, producing some five billion litres with plans to increase production to 7.5 billion litres by 2012. In the US, ethanol is commonly blended with gasoline to produce what they call gasohol, a hybrid of the two fuels which is available in about 600 gas stations nationwide.
China also uses ethanol as fuel and is indeed the third largest producer, realising about one billion litres of ethanol from wheat and corn rich, while France, leads Europe with over 800 million litres which it produces from sugar beets and wheat.
Commenting on its usefulness in automobiles, the NNPC chief explained: “Fuel ethanol is an anti knock additive in gasoline and it is emerging as an important motor fuel in view of the Kyoto protocol agreement to which Nigeria is a signatory.”
In addition, Anochie Anyaoku, the group general manager (GGM), NNPC’s Renewable Energy Unit, said a small plant will be set up at designated farm sites in a joint venture form for processing of the sugarcane, since construction of a refinery would take between two to three years and costly too.
“This ethanol initiative is private-sector driven and already local and foreign investors, as well as multinationals are currently being engaged”, Anyaoku said.
The project is expected to blend 10 per cent ethanol with petrol. The government however, plans to increase production to 25 per cent by 2008, he said. Apart from producing ethanol fuel, the project also has the potential of generating up to 15 MW of electricity from a “biogas-fed cogeneration plant,” he concluded.
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