Coal-rich Botswana has announced its ambitious plans to reduce carbon emissions by setting up a 50 million-litre per year bio-diesel processing plant to be fed from jatropha (oil seed) plantations by 2012.
The project will be funded from the National Petroleum Fund as Botswana joins the fight against climate change and global warming.
Already efforts to acquire at least 70, 000 hectares of land for jatropha plantations to feed the bio-fuel plant are at an advanced stage, according to the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources' Committee of Supply Report to Parliament.
The report says the aim is to develop the land and then lease it to the private sector and local farmers, adding that the private sector will be motivated to develop more plantations to meet the processing plant's capacity. Initially the plant, which is expected to start bio-diesel production in two years, will kick off using meat tallow and used cooking oil as feedstock to produce the bio diesel.
Meanwhile, the report says, Botswana is making good use of the Global Environment Facility to carry out a number of renewable energy projects, among them, the rural electrification initiative. The rural electrification project entails solar electricity systems, solar recharging services for lanterns and small batteries, efficient wood stoves and hot bags at Lentsweletau, Dikgatlong, Kgope and Medie villages in the Kweneng district.
Through the Global Environment Facility, Botswana has also funded training for the institutionalisation of photovoltaic courses in colleges and brigades and continues to raise awareness in order to change the negative perception about PV technology.
According to the report, so far 30 solar electric systems have been installed while 19 rechargeable lanterns and 28 efficient wood stoves have also been bought.
The project aims to provide systems to over 6, 000 households over a five-year period.
The report says at the moment the ministry is undertaking biogas electrification and cooking project in Mabesekwa village, which is not connected to the national grid. Authorities, according to the report, are hopeful that lighting the village using biogas will be a great achievement for the government as it should be cost effective as compared to connection to the national grid. It is also anticipated that the introduction of biogas at the primary school will relieve the pupils of the burden of having to fetch firewood from far places.