Ethanol is dubbed the ‘fuel of the future’ and its emergence on the global energy markets certainly supports that claim. With the worlds global powers actively seeking more sustainable fuel solutions, we are further encouraged to push through with this project.
We believe that ethanol can in time compete with gas and kerosene use in the average African home. This however is dependent on more blending mandates within the continent and favourable policy in the hope of creating greater domestic demand and consumption.Ethanol can help ease the current issues of fuel scarcity and clandestine fuels emerging in the Africa and can offer an affordable clean alternative . Currently fuels such as kerosene, diesel and liquid gas are most commonly used in domestic households. These are the only options available to the majority of the people living in urban African towns and cities. There are even less options to those living in the rural less developed towns and villages. Introducing ethanol cooking stoves into rural communities can create local demand but also be a sustainable mediu in the erradication of firewood usage whilst awakeneing the locals to the various possibilities that ethanol can provide for them.
WESAF’s business model of small to medium sized production plants will aim to create a local industry that will allow the local farmers and business owners opportunity to directly benefit from the introduction of ethanol into the area. The main logistical points we have to consider concerning ethanol production are power supply, ease of access ,capable manpower and a market for the end product. These are all paramount to the long term sustainability of the project. We believe a solid production strategy will help us along all stages operations. WESAF has also mooted the possibility of obtaining unused cane molasses from various partners in Cameroon. For practicality reasons we do not yet intend to introduce molasses production from the outset but it will naturally be the first option of diversification and expansion of the plant. With the feedstock being produced on our nucleus estate and that gathered from the WESAF co-operative scheme we already envisage having more feedstock than projected and have allowed for this in the plant design analysis .
Following the successful models pioneered in Brazil for sugarcane ethanol production we believe we can achieve similarly positive results in our own way in our own environment. Figures coming out of Brazil both on production and production costs cannot be overlooked and much of our research has been conducted on the vast progress Brazil has made in global ethanol production. We used these models because it has a rural population similar to Africa and the economies and social conditions of these rural locations can be mirrored to those in Cameroon.
Plant flexibility is another major factor of our production as this has the capability to insulate us from a volatile market. Being able to produce differing grades of ethanol allows us to supply to a range of different industries sustaining financial performance. Advancements in technology now make production simpler and more cost effective . Automation systems can now be monitored and regulated from various locations and allow for gradual expansion at little cost compared to previous systems. WESAF will seek to adopt new technologies and keep abrest of research and new technologies that will have positve impact on the overall performence of an ethanol plant.
Energy co-generation is the crux of our operation. The importance of being able to establish a consistent power source cannot be stressed enough. For this reason we have opted to intentionally generate as much power as possible on the site. Designs for a state of the art solar pv farm are completed. This solar pv system will provide power from the outset of the project even during site construction. Modern cogeneration technology allows for small plants to produce more than enough electricity for their needs and a surplus. Energy cogeneration impacts our milling and marketing stratgies respectively and many other factors of the project so implementing the most efficient system will have both immediate and longterm benefits.
Sugarcane ethanol production comes with the bonus of energy self sufficiency. The bagasse left over from the cane preparation can be used to generate electricity . In the traditional approach, sugar factories and distilleries cogenerate just enough steam and electricity to meet their on-site needs. This was a limiting factor in some business' and the true potential of energy co-generation wasn't being actualised. The revenue available from a surplus amount of power was also being missed out on.
Cogeneration plays a huge role in all facets of our business. Not only are we generating the energy for our ethanol production activities but also for the villages and the wider inhabitants of the Ejagham region. Providing consistent electricity will allow the local people access to learning resources that have alluded them up until now, for example school teachers and dr's will have the means to deliver a much improved service to pupils and pateints reepectively. The provision of electricity is one of the Ejagham regions main issues as it is outside of the current grid concession.
With power being such a pivotal factor in the life of the project we believe that installing an efficient power generation system will give us a solid platform to reach our internal and external goals. Advancements in modern cogeneration technology have vastly enhanced the potential of generation and can prove a lucrative extra revenue. We want to take this one step further by introducing solar and hydro power units to the energy mix on the site .
The introduction of combination power units will complement and provide auxiliary power to the electricity generated from the utilisation of bagasse. Which will be our primary source of power generation .We hope this will make us even more self sufficient and more efficient . We want to provide a consistent energy flow to the villages and feel placing all the loads on the bagasse strategy may prove too much . The idea being that by introducing these combination units will lessen the burden placed on steam power generation and allow us to divert optimum power to the production of ethanol. Having an efficient storage system will add the overall efficiency of the distribution of power minimising any lost power in transit or storage. We have explored several storage options from a range of companies from Trojan, Tesla and Siemens to name a few.
The hydro unit will be established in phase2 of the project development and will create DC Power from solar energy, primarily to elevate water to a suitable height before diverting the thrust of the water downwards, to be received at force into a hydro turbine, hence creating AC Power without the use of DC/AC inverters. Providing light to village houses including school buildings and new learning facilities like computers which were previously impossible to use without power. A/C and refrigerators can be installed in local medical clinic’s for the comfort of the sick, while allowing medicines to be stored in a cool environment.
The surplus availability of electricity will go on to power new food storage projects created by WESAF with the view of adding value to local produce in preparation for the global markets while improving the local communities income. Portions of this surplus will be exploited to energy co-operatives or back to the national grid for distribution.
Sustainability of any project revolves around the responsible stewardship of investment resources but also the effective management of local man power and resources. Having the development of the community as one of our main focus points allows us a platform to rapidly impact the community through our operations . The creation of jobs , agricultural education,social , medical training can have an immediate impact even prior to production of ethanol. Sustainability to us also means opening trade routes and routes to market for the local farmers. We want to not only be a fuel and power producer but also an innovator. Our intention to introduce ethanol stoves will create a local demand for ethanol.
Diligent market anaylis of both domestic and foreign markets will help us alter and ajust our strategy in order to establish the longterm stability of the project. Our studies have identifed strong demand domestically for ethanol.
The Cameroonian energy ministry has set about creating a legal frame work that will encourge private sector invesmenent specifically for renewable energy projects. Laws effected in 2011 and amended in 2015 establish a renewable energy agency as well as simpify the application for power generation licences, fiscal reprieves and import/export and tax relief periods for renewable energy . Favourable legislation as well as local demand lead us to belief that we can create a lasting project that will in the immediacy begin to shape the future of the Ejagham region and its people.
Farming of our sugar cane and other crops offers an avenue for work the locals . Having partially mechanised farming will mean the farmers will gain new skills and machinery to use on their own plots to achieve maximum harvest. We believe that the more productive our farming operations the more efficient our ethanol operations.
Relations with the local authorities and cultural leaders is imporatant to us. Konwledge of cultural prictices is a sensitive issue in these communities and we must demonstarte that even as a corporate entitiy we will respect and promote the values behind the traditons.We want to work with them ultimately to represent the industrial community of the Ejagham region.
The overall remit of our co-operative structure is establishing the longterm future of the project from a human development perspective. If through the management of products we can educate , employ and empower human beings then we will have achieved success in preparing the current and future employees of the company resulting in long term stability.
The cooperative will manage the agribusiness and exploit the byproducts of our ethanol activities. The co-operative programme includes farmers of the village who have pledged portions of land for sugar cane production as part of our out-growers program. In return these select farmers will have full membership in the co-operative and own a stake in the cooperative. With them receiving dividends from co-op activities . Membership for the farmers includes;
Research and Development
During construction of the plant sizeable forest areas will need to be cleared. We feel we can counter this in a small way by Planting tree borders. By strategically planting trees around the natural boundary of our estate we will be able to plant a sizeable number of trees in creating a clear distinct boundary. Aswell as the tree boundary innitiative we will seek to continue ongoing research to constantly to keep abrest and at the pinnacle of industrial farming. We explored the idea of tri-generation and creating cold stores for the preservation of fruits and vegetables planted by the farmers of the co-operative. There is the possibility of producing the cold as we produce electricity for the plant . Cold storage and secure storage units will add value and increase longevity of produce .
The full run down of our corporate social responsibility is laid out in our feasibility study, but what is clear is that our close ties to the community mean that we have a real human focus to our activities and want to work in a collegiate manner to ensure we meet our targets both in development and production. But most of all to improve the the investment potential of the region and improve the standards of living through the provision of electricity and wealth generation for the inhabitants of he Ejagham region.
The impact of our activities on the environment have been well analysed and whilst we cannot prevent some impact we feel taking active steps can help to counter the effects of any initial negative impacts.The main nuisances will be: noise pollution some air pollution but we will adhere to emissions regulation in the area, managment of waste and deforestation. Through proactive implementation of internal policy we can manage the actual impacts of our activities . We have the benefit of being within a forest reserve zone. The government has already mapped out the ecological areas that cannot be encroached into. This is bonus as we know the area of our land is private land and thus eligible for development. We will take particular care of the water ways seeing as we share boundary with a sizeable water way it will be a major resource so keeping it contaminant free is very imporatnt and will not support dumping of any substances in the local waterways. The measure of succes of the project must be set off against the impact the project has on the local community. Minimising this impact has to be a primary concern for us and having effective impact managment strategies will be imperative. Waste and recycling will play a big part as the physical waste generated from a project of this nature can build up
WESAF has sought to work with well established global partners to help us deliver on our objectives. We specifically chose our partners for their abilities to contribute and their belief and drive in the aliviation of widespread poverty and the development of renewable technologies. One of Wesaf's core values is a commitment to responsible stewardship of resources. Be it funding or equipment we operate on transparent fair principles that will instil faith in us from both our partners the inhabitants of the immediate project area and the Government
As the company grows we aim to work in tandem with the energy ministries to set up more sites around the country and eventually branch out around the continent . Our business model of small to medium sized self facilities in accesible rural locations and power generation means capital expenditures can be minimalised and project budgets adhered to quite easily. Being able to cultivate as much energy crop as possible will boost national GDP while not having an adverse impact on food crop supplies. Cameroon is an ideal country for biofuel feedstock culitivation and we recognise the potential. We will aim to maximise this potential to the benefit of the company the inhabitants and ultimately the country. We have visions to eventually roll out our brand of ethanol and agribusiness to more sites in the country and eventually in the continent. We want to prove that industrial projects are viable in rural african communities and investments can be reasonably budgeted to get projects up to the standard of profitability and provide the wealth of opportunities and development for communities.