Innovation through technology and partnerships between the private sector, local and national government will open new resources, markets and create much needed jobs in emerging economies, writes Afrox Managing Director, Schalk Venter.
This week saw the official opening of a new waste-to-energy plant in Athlone in the Western Cape region of South Africa. The R400m plant is owned and built by bio-tech start-up New Horizons Energy with the assistance of the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), which financed 60% of the project.
Afrox, determined to open up new resources for our customers, recognising the value in innovative technologies, teamed up with New Horizons in 2015 when the project was in its earliest stages of development.
Attending the ceremony on Wednesday (January 25 2017), I clearly felt the passion behind this new venture which will turn 500 tonnes or roughly 10 per cent of Cape Town’s daily waste, into useable bio-methane at purity levels of over 90 per cent and add new much-needed source of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the Afrox portfolio.
On top of that, especially in this time of high unemployment in South Africa, this new bio-tech plant is expected to create 80 full-time jobs and, indirectly, several hundred more when it comes online in mid-2017.
The passion with which IDC's Raoul Goosen, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille and New Horizons’ CEO Egmont Ottermann spoke at the opening confirms innovation and support for new technologies is alive and well in South Africa.
Afrox has long supported new emerging sectors and looks forward to supplying bio-CO2 to industry‚ agriculture and for waste-water treatment; while we will market the bio-methane, more commonly known as compressed natural gas (CNG), to supplement liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and diesel.
The fact is CNG –traditionally extracted from natural gas well, above oil deposits or landfills – is fast becoming recognised as a real supplement to the energy mix of many countries and the New Horizons Energy’s bio-mass source of CNG has its part to play.
It is a small step at this stage but, nevertheless, a step in the right direction to providing industry in the Western Cape with a clean energy alternative to coal, diesel and heavy oils.
Economic success through support for research and development, innovation and alternate thinking, is a road Africa has started to travel down in many economic areas and requires the support of both private and public sectors.
As the largest industrial gases and related technologies company in sub-Saharan Africa today, and backed by The Linde Group, we will continue to throw our considerable support behind new innovative ventures like bio-waste conversion to ensure mutually profitable and sustainable routes to market.