An Agro-Allied Project to Convert Sweet Sorghum to Ethanol.

Many companies are implementing an agro-allied project to convert the juice from the stalk of sweet sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L) Moench) to ethanol.

It is an attemt to help Nigeria and indeed the entire West African sub-region reduce her carbon footprint. The company is developing 15 fuel ethanol refineries,10 in Nigeria and 5 in other ECOWAS member countries in West Africa through commercialising research findings to fight global warming. The first project is being implemented at Ilemeso Ekiti State of Nigeria and its blueprint will be propagated rapidly over a five year period. The initiative, also known as Grow Your Energy (GYE), is an agro-allied industrial complex from where the sugary juice extracted from the stalk of sweet sorghum plant is fermented, distilled and denatured into fuel ethanol, an environmentally friendly fuel for blending with gasoline at E5, E10 or E15 standards to power the existing models of automobiles running on the streets of Nigeria without any requirement for modification. This effort is capable of reducing Nigeria’s carbon footprint from the transport and household sectors in a significant way.

It is an integrated industrial activity made up of several small revenue yielding units (each of which can operate as a stand-alone business) but which has been intelligently put together to operate seamlessly as a single unbroken cycle of simple processes, utilizing ordinary agricutural wastes and appropriate transfer pricing mechanism for the production of:

Each of the specialized unit has a proven methodology and technology support that has existed for several centuries. The only aspect of the initiative that can be truly described as new and innovative is the integration and seamless approach to its cyclical production processes. For example, Nigeria and most parts of West Africa have been home to grain sorghum cultivation for decades. Approximately 7.5 million hactares of the commodity is presently under cultivation in Nigeria alone. The GBfL approach is to switch a small percentage of the grain sorghum farmland to the sweet sorghum varieties. This will immediately lead to wealth creation for the poor peasant farmers. Not only will they continue to use their grains for food and earn revenue from their sale, they can also now begin to earn substantial revenue from the sugary stalks and leaves of sorghum which hitherto had no known economic value.

To develop 15 fuel ethanol refineries producing 200KLPD to satisfy Nigeria’s E10 Kyoto Protocol requirement in its entirety, a mere 150,000 hactares of grain sorghum farmland out of the 7.5million hactares presently under cultivation is required to be switched. With adequate government financial support and strong political backing therefore, Nigeria and the rest of West Africa blessed with good arable land, sufficient rainfall and all year round sunshine has the potential to become the biofuels capital of world, surpassing both Brazil and China. The Nigerian government support is a primary requirement if the renewable energy sector must grow and live to up to expectation. Nigeria must learn from the example of USA where fuel ethanol is heavily dependent on federal incentives and regulations. As reported in the Congressional Research Service report Code RL 33290 of March 3 2006, ethanol production is encouraged by a federal tax credit of 51cents per gallon. This incentive allows ethanol, which has historically been more expensive to produce than conventional gasoline in the US to compete with gasoline and other blending components. In addition to the tax credit, the report shows that small ethanol producers also qualify for additional development and production credit.

Owing to the very simple, practical and attractive nature of this initiative, it has received:

The endorsement and political backing of the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) made up of 15 sovereign nations with a combined population of 380 million.The endorse of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Clean Development Mechanism head by Prof Olisemaka Gardner (Appendix 3)The endorsement of Nigeria’s Designated National Authority (DNA) in the Special Climate Change Unit of Nigeria’s Ministry of Environment.The endorsement of the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the organization mandated to develop and seed the renewable energy sector of Nigeria’s economy (Appendix 4)Won the 1988 coveted emerging economies Biofuels Award for Sub-Sahara Africa given by Messrs Frost and Sullivan, the renowned Fortune 1000 company’s research group. Won the 1988 award by the African Business Owners Forum Incoporated (ABOFI) of St. Georges County, Maryland, USA

Post Author: Johnni Payne