European markets for African biodiesel

A major South African biodiesel development based on extraction from canola, which will be exported to Europe, could point the way to biodiesel grow-and-extract projects using other oilseeds throughout Africa.
/~Phyto Energy SA is negotiating offshore to finance a $72m refinery to produce canola biofuel for export to Europe to meet statutory biodiesel requirements there. The development is based on what is seen as a secure market for biofuels in Europe.
The EU Biofuels Fuels Directive requires member countries to achieve 5.75% by volume use of biofuels for transport by 2010, and has set an objective of 20% of energy resources to be substituted by 2020 – by biofuels, natural gas, hydrogen or other alternative fuels extracted by environmentally-friendly means.
There is a shortage of land for cultivating suitable crops in Europe, so biodiesel will have to be imported to meet these targets.
Currently, diesel mixtures containing up to 5% biodiesel can be sold without special labelling in Europe. Negotiations are under way to establish a standard which would increase this to 7%. France and Germany are leading, and ”B7” will be on sale across Germany by the beginning of 2009.
Over 30 countries internationally have already defined targets or statutory minimums for the levels of biofuels in vehicles. This has helped to create reliable global markets for biofuels.
Canola (rapeseed) is the principal oil used for biodiesel in Europe, mainly because of its winterisation properties (it does not become viscous in winter).
However, additives can overcome this problem if other oils are used. In principle, all vegetable oils can be used for the manufacture of biodiesel – possible options include palm oil, sunflower oil and jatropha oil. Soy is the main raw material used in the US.
Used cooking oil and animal fat can also be used to manufacture biodiesel once they have been subjected to appropriate cleaning processes.
The new canola project, located in the Eastern Cape, envisages that the refinery will be up and producing 200,000t/year from mid-2011, from feedstock harvested in both the Eastern Cape and the Free State provinces. Initially, about 300,000ha of canola will be required to meet the needs of the refinery.
In the long term it is envisaged that production will reach 400,000t/year.
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