An analysis of potential feedstock and location for biodiesel production in Southern Africa
The economics of biodiesel production shows that the cost of raw material is the main driver of the overall production costs. Operation cost of biodiesel production does not reflect significant economy of scale because scale-dependent variable such as labour, chemical and maintenance costs are only a small part of the operating expenses. The success of the biodiesel industry is therefore reliant upon the availability of adequate supplies of reasonably priced feedstocks. The potential oil crops for use in Southern Africa countries for biodiesel production are not well-documented. This paper analyzes the potential availability of biodiesel feedstock in Southern Africa and discusses their suitability, adaptability of the various oils as precursors for biodiesel production. Potential feedstocks are identified which is by no means an all inclusive list but contains major oil crops/feedstock that can be used for biodiesel production. The current and future availability of each feedstock are evaluated and growing regions for dedicated biodiesel oil seeds is proposed using multi criteria decision analysis based on analytic hierarchy process methodology. This paper also discusses the sustainability of using non-food crops as biodiesel feedstock against the backdrop of current biofuel policies and initiatives in Southern Africa. This study provides investment information to potential investors and further set the context for biofuel discussion and development in the African continent. © 2011 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.