Multi-Million Rand Investment in South African Biomass Industry

Digital African Utility Week & POWERGEN Africa

Six companies, specialised in biomass valorisation, have teamed up to develop new business initiatives in South Africa using solid (woody) biomass.

The companies have formed a public-private partnership (PPP) with the Dutch government, Netherlands Enterprise Agency and the Embassy of the Netherlands in South Africa.

Emiel Hanekamp

“Beneficiation of biomass residues holds a major potential for South Africa in terms of waste minimisation, job creation, CO₂-reductions, and clean, secure and affordable household energy,” says Emiel Hanekamp, senior partner in Partners for Innovation, one of the companies involved in this initiative. “We are looking for collaborations with municipalities and local companies to actually make this happen.”

Masterclass at #DAUW
The team will present an exclusive, free masterclass on “Biomass opportunities in South Africa” on 25 November at 12h30 SAST during the Digital African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa.

A previously mothballed pellet factory at Coega Development Zone near Port Elizabeth has already been acquired and will be refurbished to be operational again in the course of 2021. It will be known as the Coega Biomass Centre.

Emiel explains: “Municipalities can valorise the wood residues from their gardens and parks that otherwise end up in overcrowded landfills. The collection of wood residues, especially the AIS clearing, and the pre-processing and transportation of this waste creates many local jobs. This is apart from the jobs created at the pellet factory itself. In total, approximately 900 jobs will be created in the Nelson Mandela Bay area.”

If locally used in gasifier cookstoves, the wood pellets produced by the factory can provide up to 48,000 households with clean and affordable household energy.

Site for the Coega Biomass Centre 

“The Coega Biomass Centre is the first in a row,” Emiel adds, “as our ambition is to start similar initiatives in South Africa. We expect to launch new initiatives for biomass residues beneficiation during next year. For South African companies, this means investment and collaboration opportunities in a solid infrastructure, creating new sustainable business models in a promising and expanding market. In addition, they can profit from a long-term collaboration with European companies and investors.”

With regards to the total investment in the project thus far, the partners will invest R50-million (€3-million) in the first phase which is the acquisition, refurbishment and recommissioning of the factory.

Further investments in the factory are expected in the near future. For example, the investment in the drying and torrefaction technology and its integration in the existing plant is expected to be around R45-million.

Masterclass: “Biomass opportunities in South Africa”, 25 November at 12h30 SAST | 10h30 GMT

Host: Sebastiaan Messerschmidt, Consul-General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Cape Town, South Africa

Moderator: Werner Euler, managing director, iLive Sustainable Development


  • Emiel Hanekamp, Senior Partner, Partners for Innovation, The Netherlands
  • Joris Spaan, Project Manager, Yilkins, The Netherlands
  • Ruben Walker, CEO, African Clean Energy, Lesotho
  • Bart-Willem ten Cate, Low-Carbon Strategist, Finco Fuel Group, The Netherlands 
  • Jordi Meijer, Managing Director, Control Union, South Africa
  • Garth Barnes, Deputy Director: Risk and Strategic Partnerships, Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, South Africa
  • Kees Kwant, Senior Expert Bioenergy and Liaison Circular Biobased Economy, Netherlands Enterprise Agency, part of Ministry of Economic Affairs, The Netherlands

Media briefing: Announcement of biomass initiative, 24 November, 12h45 SAST| 10h45 GMT

TO REGISTER for the masterclass, media briefing and the other upcoming sessions during Digital African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa:

Digital Energy Festival
Digital African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa
 forms part of the Digital Energy Festival for Africa that is hosted jointly with three other leading energy brands under Clarion Events, namely Africa Energy Forum,  the Oil & Gas Council’s Africa Assembly and the energy journal ESI Africa, which has been providing weeks of compelling content since the festival started on 20 October. Most of the sessions are still available on demand.

Clarion Events Africa
Clarion Events Africa is a multi-award-winning Cape Town-based exhibition and conference producer across the continent in the infrastructure, energy and mining sectors. Other well-known events include the Utility CEO Forums, Future Energy East Africa, Future Energy Nigeria, Nigeria Mining Week, Africa Mining Forum and DRC Mining Week. Clarion Events Africa is part of the UK-based Clarion Events Group’s Clarion Energy Series, which runs over 40 events that cover the oil, gas, power and energy sectors, making it one of the group’s largest portfolios.

African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa dates and location:
Digital Energy Festival for Africa: 20 October-26 November 2020
Digital conference and matchmaking: 24-26 November 2020
Venue: Online

Next, live, in-person conference and exhibition: 11-13 May 2021
Venue: CTICC, Cape Town, South Africa

Linkedin: African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa

Media contact:
Senior Communications Manager:  Annemarie Roodbol
Telephone:  +27 21 700 3558

Digital African Utility Week & POWERGEN Africa

Leave A Reply

About Author

Green Building Africa promotes the need for net carbon zero buildings and cities in Africa. We are fiercely independent and encourage outlying thinkers to contribute to the #netcarbonzero movement. Climate change is upon us and now is the time to react in a more diverse and broader approach to sustainability in the built environment. We challenge architects, property developers, urban planners, renewable energy professionals and green building specialists. We also challenge the funding houses and regulators and the role they play in facilitating investment into green projects. Lastly, we explore and investigate new technology and real-time data to speed up the journey in realising a net carbon zero environment for our children.

Copyright Green Building Africa 2024.