Valorising solid biomass in South Africa


Valorising solid biomass in South Africa

Creating jobs and value from woody biomass in South Africa

On 31st October 2019, Partners for Innovation, Yilkins, Finco Fuel, African Clean Energy, Control Union and Futerra Fuels have signed a covenant with the Dutch government to develop new business opportunities in South Africa for the valorisation of woody biomass residue streams. The 2-year PIB Solid Biomass in South Africa program will lead to transfer and trade of knowledge, services, products and technologies and the start of new collaborations between South African and Dutch organisations. Partners for Innovation is the private sector coordinator for this consortium. This initiative was developed in close cooperation with iLive Sustainable Development, the liaison.

Valorising biomass residues holds a major potential for South Africa in terms of waste minimisation, job creation and investment opportunities. In addition, it can create reliable access to secure, affordable and clean energy. Together with local stakeholders the consortium will set up advanced value chains, collecting and sorting woody biomass residues and producing products, fuels and energy with value for both local and foreign markets.

Using an integrated and sustainable approach, the cluster is seeking long-term collaborations with South African companies and organisations to create successful and viable business opportunities. By working together, we can minimise the negative impact of waste on the South African environment while bringing improved health, job opportunities and economic benefits.

What is the cluster planning to do in South Africa?

The first concrete step is the purchase and refurbishment of a mothballed pellet factory and to get it operational again in the first quarter of 2021. This includes:

    • Secure the long-term availability of wood residues from municipal parks and gardens, forestry and sawmills operations and harmful invasive trees and plants
    • Process and pelletise these woody residues
    • Ensure compliance to international sustainability standards
    • Distribute and sell the pellets to local households (clean cooking) and industries (industrial boilers), companies producing biofuels and export for power production

In the course of 2020 new initiatives for biomass valorisation will be developed, e.g. new pellet factories in other regions.

What are the benefits for local communities?

    • Investment opportunities in a solid infrastructure
    • Creation of over 1,000 jobs
    • Affordable energy for approximately 25,000 households
    • Cleaner energy contributing to a 200-kton CO₂ reduction
    • Compliance to international sustainability standards (e.g. RSB, FSC)
    • Improved health by providing safe and clean cooking
    • Reduction of alien invasive trees and plants improves groundwater levels
    • Waste reduction resulting in less landfill
    • Long-term cooperation between Dutch and local stakeholders

How can you get involved?

We are looking for South African partners with access to woody biomass residues. In addition, we are interested incooperating with local stakeholders to develop new biomass valorisation projects (e.g. pellet factories) in the region.

As a Dutch stakeholder, you can join the Partners for International Business Consortium. The PIB initiative is a platform to actively assess and advance current business opportunities on biomass and bioenergy between South Africa and the Netherlands. This initiative is formally and actively supported by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (including the embassy in South Africa). Consortium members will enjoy active marketing and exposure, covered by the PIB budget. This includes Netherlands Branding, networks events, conferences, trade missions and promotionals, etc. The consortium already has established a solid network of local potential partners and stakeholders. Various partner or stakeholder opportunities exists in fields of: logistic services, consultancy, technology, end-user market, finance, biomass supplier, commodity trader, NGOs (environmental and socio-economic impact), and academic research. Your organization is cordially invited to join the PIB consortium.

Spin offs

  • In november 2020 Partners for Innovation, Hive Energy and Ilive acquired a dorming pellet factory in Port Elisabeth. Click here for more information.
  • In january 2021 Yilkins and Partners for Innovation started a investment feasibility study for the development of torrefaction for black pellet production.

Are you interested or do you want more information?

Biomass animation

Are you interested in this consortium or do you want to know about de Coega Biomass Centre? Don’t hesitate to contact Emiel Hanekamp, cluster coordinator.

With this project we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations:





Also view our other projects.


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Emiel Hanekamp +31 (0)6 5154 2539