Sweet energy – bioenergy integration pathways for sugarcane residues. A case study of Nkomazi, District of Mpumalanga, South Africa

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The South African sugar sector is making important contributions to the national economy in terms of income, employment, land reform and rural development. With fluctuating world market prices for sugar and sharp price increases for electricity the sector is facing several challenges. There is a recognised need to switch to more low carbon and renewable energy carriers and sugarcane residues are becoming of increasing interest. This paper presents exploratory research on community energy demand of integrating bioenergy from sugarcane residues into the sugar value chain. These have been identified during farm visits and stakeholder meetings in Nkomazi, District of Mpumalanga, South Africa. From these, four potential bioenergy integration pathways were highlighted and evaluated. While the pathway with centralised bioenergy generation can provide benefits to the national energy supply, local community-scale bioenergy integration can directly target the development and empowerment of communities and improve their energy security. Assessing the pathways identify that it is necessary to consider carefully: (1) what are the desired outcomes of integrating bioenergy, (2) what are the trade-offs between different sustainability aspects, and (3) who will receive the benefits. This shows the importance of considering context specific and wider socio-economic aspect to identify possible benefits and challenges.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1302-1310
Number of pages9
JournalRenewable Energy
Early online date28 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017

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