Monday, 12 August 2013 09:23

Changing SA’s energy landscape

A small company with big plans, Vuthisa Technologies (VT), wants to play a role in the changing energy landscape of South Africa, even if it means taking a risk or two.

Vuthisa Technologies embarked on a six-month feasibility trial late in 2011 to convert invasive jungle wattle into charcoal. The farmer on whose farm the trial was performed had originally approached Vuthisa to rid his farm of wattle that has for years been steadily encroaching on his rolling high altitude grasslands, afromontane forests and pristine wetlands.

Vuthisa qualified to receive funding from the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Working for Water Programme in 2012, as part of the Natural Resources Management (NRM) Programme to manage the removal of invasive alien plant species (IAPs).

The Vuthisa Charcoal Project aims to process some 23 000 tons of feedstock produced by their harvesting teams over three years into charcoal and other forest products.

According to Kobus Venter, founder of Vuthisa Technologies, the company also entered into an agreement with Planet Earth Biopower (PEB) with reference to biomass to bio-energy programmes in rural areas.

Venter says: “PEB requires forest biomass that Vuthisa Technologies is able to provide though the NRM Programme. PEB is also in a unique position, through its links with the University of KwaZulu-Natal, to breed biomass crops that will supplement NRM forest biomass. This is good news for the Sisonke District Municipality as the project will contract local community members for biomass collection, and supplying households, local municipalities and farmers with ‘green’ fuels and electricity generated from forest biomass.”

Venter stated: “Vuthisa Technologies also secured funding from the Energy and Environment Partnership (EEP) in South and East Africa to undertake a pilot study to build and test emission-reducing (ER) kilns.”

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to Vuthisa Technologies for the information given to write this article.

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