August 17, 2010 / 1:12 PM / 10 years ago

Zambia Sugar becomes power self-sufficient

A truck is loaded with organic sugar cane at the Sao Fransisco sugar mill in Sertaozinho, about 344 km (215 miles) southeast of Sao Paulo, Brazil September 8, 2005. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker PW/TY

LUSAKA (Reuters) - Zambia Sugar, a unit of South Africa’s Illovo Sugar, has started generating all of its own power needs, ending its reliance on shaky state grid supplies, a senior company official said on Tuesday.

Company secretary Lovemore Sievu said the firm was producing 40 megawatts (MW) of electricity from cane sugar residues, more than the 36 MW used by its factory and irrigation units.

“One of the things that was planned and has happened during this expansion has been power generation, and we are now certainly able to satisfy our requirements,” Sievu said.

Zambia Sugar is still connected to state power utility Zesco but only to access 2 MW of power needed to stabilize the factory load and for initial power generation, he said.

“We now generate about 40 MW of electricity on our own. The factory uses 13 MW, and the balance of 23 MW is used for irrigation, while the rest we send to the national grid,” he said.

Zambia Sugar, the southern African nation’s largest sugar producer, last year cut its production forecast to 350,000 tonnes from 420,000 for the year to March 2010 due to heavy rains.

It said in December it planned to double annual sugar exports to the European Union to 200,000 tonnes in three to four years, benefiting from duty and quota free access.

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