Big plans for eco-friendly job provider

By Irshaad Gangat

An eco-friendly business venture in Port Elizabeth’s special development zone, Coega, is set to create hundreds of jobs in the Eastern Cape. 

Hive Energy (United Kingdom), iLive Sustainable Development (South Africa) and Partners for Innovation (Netherlands) have teamed up as shareholders of the Coega Biomass Centre (CBC), Africa’s largest wood pellet export plant situated in Coega, Port Elizabeth. 

The Coega Biomass Centre will produce white wood pellets using biomass residues like sawdust and woodchips, non-indigenous forest and destructive invasive vegetation. The pellets provide a cleaner burning fuel than dirty coal, charcoal and anthracite.

It aims to generate over 500 jobs locally, restore indigenous vegetation and help create a cleaner environment. 

The centre will undertake a full revamp of the biomass plant, expected to take nine months, and plans to eventually produce as much as 180,000 tons a year. 

An estimated 200,000 tons of coal CO2 per year could be offset with the biomass pellets produced there. 

CEO of Hive Energy, Giles Redpath said, “For Hive Energy this venture is an exciting opportunity to invest further in our cleaner world vision. It is an excellent opportunity to contribute meaningfully in the green energy transition – not only will this benefit local communities in an area of massive unemployment, but it will also positively impact the recovery of local ecosystems and offer a cleaner option for thousands of dirty energy users.” 

Once operational, the plant will provide over direct 100 jobs with another 500 indirect jobs generated such as surveying, training, harvesting, collection, transportation and processing of biomass inputs.

Emiel Hanekamp of Partners for Innovation said, “In this project we will work together with all local stakeholders. By creating value from residue and invasive biomass, we will be able to provide a real contribution to a sustainable economic growth, that will benefit South Africa, the Netherlands, the planet.”

The white pellets have domestic and industrial uses, from home boilers for heating, industrial furnaces for steam generation and for power production. CBC is also investigating the feasibility of producing black pellets which have some advantages over white pellets, especially when transported over long distances. 

Werner Euler (iLive) managing director of Coega Biomass Centre said, “It’s been a long road for iLive, and the dream is now finally coming true! Biomass plays a vital role in addressing climate change and is an important component needed for the transition to cleaner fuels. Combined with the favourable environmental and social impact this will be a flagship project for the South African economy.”

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