• 340,000 litres to be produced a day
• Investors express interest
GASABO - Rwanda is poised to be among the first African countries to start the commercial production of the sulphur-free environmental friendly bio-diesel, following a major breakthrough by the government sponsored, Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (IRST).
The institute which has for the last one year been undertaking a pilot project to produce bio-diesel, says it is now ready to start large scale production, and is awaiting Cabinet approval.
In an exclusive interview with The New Times, Dr. Jean Baptiste Nduwayezu, the Director General of IRST, said that as soon as the Cabinet approves the commercial Bio-diesel policy, the institute will collaborate with different investors, in the construction of a large a commercial plant to produce large quantities of bio-diesel for public consumption.
The Mulindi-based institute established by government to seek ways of breaking away from heavy dependency on fossil fuels now produces about 2000 litres of bio diesel from; Jatropha Curcas, palm oil, Moringa oil, avocado seeds and animal fats and says it could soon embark on large scale projects following the success of the pilot scheme.
“Because of the rising costs of fossil fuels and other factors like land degradation, climate change and rural poverty which are threats to the economic development in many developing countries including Rwanda, we think Bio-diesel could be the best alternative.”
He cited the instability of prices of petroleum products on the world market as the main reason Rwanda is moving faster to seek alternative fuel sources that can be produced from local products.
“You know, when we started this project, pump prices were around Rwf 725, but it is now on Rwf 825.This shows you how unstable prices of fossil fuels can be. Once commercial production begins, a litre will cost half the pump price of fossil fuels” Nduwayezu said.
However Eng. Albert Butare, told The New Times that the passing of the bio-diesel policy will largely depend on the institution’s ability to convince the Cabinet that it has enough capacity to go commercial.
“You know Rwanda consumes about 160m litres of fuel annually and I don’t think the institution has put in place the required facilities to produce on a large scale. Currently what we have done is to give IRST one of the engines of RECO to supply it with diesel as a way of promoting the project.” Butare said.
He revealed that some big investors have already expressed keen interest to start large scale production of Jatropha and this will boost the production of Bio-diesel.
Butare also added that talks are going on with a South African company to produce liquid fuel from methane gas in Lake Kivu.
Statistics show annual growth in diesel consumption in Rwanda and by 2013 the country will consume approximately 12 million tons of diesel per annum based on a 10-year average.
IRST is currently planning to purchase bigger machines with higher capacity that can produce 340,000 litres of diesel per day.
The organisation is currently carrying out test runs and it has showed a slight difference in the consumption of the fuel with bio diesel, every 100 km travelled 10.7 litres are consumed while the normal diesel every 100 km 10.4 liters is consumed.
It has plans to launch a bus plying Kigali-Bujumbura route running on bio-diesel.