Ohorongo Cement’s alternative energy project, Energy for the Future, has shifted gear as it is now downscales the harvesting of encroachment bush and has instead opted to encourage private individuals or businesses to take up the activity.
“We are now promoting private harvesters and currently have two or three of them busy with trials,” explained Ohorongo’s Cement’s Managing Director, Hans-Wilhelm Schutte.
The Energy for Future project entails the transformation of encroachment bush into useable fuel in the form of woodchips for the cement factory. Ohorongo purchases the woodchips from its sister company, Energy for Future. The company also utilizes excess heat from the kiln again to save time and energy in the burning process of raw material to clinker.
The private harvesters busy with the trial period operate in the area surrounding the cement factory where dense bush, also referred to as encroached bush, limit the agriculture potential of the area.
According to Energy for Future’s initial plan, approximately 5 000 hectares of the approximately 26 million hectares of encroachment bush in the area would be de-bushed per annum, yielding up to 85 000 tons of woodchips required for cement production on an annual basis.
The harvested woodchips are transported in bulk to Ohorongo’s main storage area on site from where they are processed and transported to the cement kiln for use as fuel at the cement factory. The project started in January 2011.
Ohorongo’s N$2.5 billion cement plant has an annual production capacity of up to 700 000 tons of cement per annum of which approximately 50 percent is sold in Namibia and the balance in neighbouring countries and further abroad.
The cement company’s research confirmed the viability to harvest encroacher bush to replace close to 80 percent of coal needed for thermal heat in cement production.
This reduction in the use of annual coal imports of up to 55 000 tons is estimated to save Ohorongo N$55 million per annum. The reduction in the energy account of Ohorongo Cement is quite sizeable at almost N$29 million per year.
Ohorongo Cement, which recently received an award from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, boasts that their CO2 emissions at their Sargberg plant, close to Otavi, is the lowest in Africa and even lower than European Union requirements.