SUGAR producer Triangle Ltd has begun generating its own electricity power, at a time when industry is under threat of power cuts and interruptions by the Zimbabwe El
ectricity Supply Authority (Zesa).
In April the company started using sugarcane residue to produce baggasse which is used to power a small generator. Between April and December the company is using power from its own plant.
A senior Triangle mill engineer, Max Muchatibaya, said the company only relies on power from Zesa for three months of the year since it is cheaper and more effective to use baggasse.
“We only rely on Zesa between January to March when we undertake our maintenance work for the machinery. The last time we paid Zesa was in March when we paid $1 billion but in May we paid zero,” he said.
“From a technical point of view, if we are to rely on coal from Hwange it is costly because we will need $600 000 for a single tonne for heating. Also one tonne of coal is equivalent to two tonnes of baggasse.”
Since 2000, a number of local firms have had their operations paralysed because of Zesa’s power interruptions and load shedding. This week Zesa announced that it was introducing load shedding due to shortage of suppies.
Muchatibaya said power produced at Triangle was used for both irrigation and to provide energy to 60 000 people who make up the Triangle community.
“If we have problems we resort to Zesa and we end up paying between $30 million and $40 million a month,” Muchatibaya said.
This year, Triangle expects to produce between two million and 2,1 million tonnes of sugarcane, which would produce 265 000 tonnes of sugar.
However, the anticipated output is a reduction from the projected 2,5 million tonnes which was set to produce 300 000 tonnes of sugar.
Muchatibaya said the reduced output was still sufficient to cater for the local market.
“The decline in output is caused by a number of factors such as the weather patterns. At times we are forced to cut cane at nine months instead of cutting it at 12 months,” he said.