South Africa has a potential to produce 433 million litres of aviation fuel per year, said South African Cane Growers Association (SA Canegrowers) on Monday.
The association said their study titled “The Viability of South African Sugarcane as Feedstock for Sustainable Aviation Fuel Production” showed potential in the diversification of the sugarcane sector.
Chairperson of SA Canegrowers Rex Talmage said by diverting 50 percent of the 19 million tons of cane produced by growers each year towards ethanol production, the industry could produce approximately 700 million litres of low-carbon ethanol annually for local or international biofuel markets.
The ethanol could then be converted into 433 million litres of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for the aviation industry by local refineries.
“Aviation biofuels as a potential value stream for cane growers will now be unpacked further by the task team. We look forward to working together with government and our industry counterparts to come up with a diversification strategy that addresses these current blockages and ensures the long-term sustainability and profitability of the industry,” he said.
He stated that liquid fuels would help the aviation sector to meet their decarbonization targets of carbon-neutral growth as of 2021, and halving its emissions by 2050 compared to 2005.
“The research study also highlights what is required to enable successful diversification of sugarcane into the production of ethanol. These include creating an enabling regulatory framework, conducting proper impact assessments and ensuring internal administrative support at farm level,” said SA Canegrowers spokesperson Thabi Ndhlovu.
SA Canegrowers said the study shows that local South African demand for fuel ethanol alone could be approximately 2.4 billion litres annually.
Ndlovu said SA Canegrowers are facing a downturn in the market for their goods locally and had to resort to loss- making export markets. She stated that diversification will help the industry to weather the storm.