Young Tawanda Chitiyo and his Bio-Refinery Project in Zimbabwe

Tawanda Chitiyo, a young Zimbabwean entrepreneur and a climate change enthusiast is championing the production of clean and sustainable energy from waste in his country Zimbabwe through his renewable energy start-up.

The 31 years old from Mutare with no prior experience in project development or management has been able to use his street-horned skills to put together a team of experts that has come up with a formidable project plan to build a Bio-refinery in Mutare, producing biodiesel, Biogas and carbon char and electricity from human waste.

Tawanda Energy, the start-up founded by Chitiyo, in collaboration with Harare Institute of Technology, was granted a 25-year lease by Mutare City Council to develop bio-refineries at its two main sewer plants in Sakubva and Yeovil in early 2017.

This has developed into a working partnership with the Climate Change Research Center of the Harare Institute of Technology and Astra Innovations, a German technological firm to build the Mutare Bio-refinery.

The Mutare Bio-refinery which will be providing an operational base for an electric power plant will have the capacity to convert 48 tonnes of sewage sludge through a process of advanced thermal distillation into: 9.1 million liters per year of diesel (one percent of diesel market share) which as a cheaper diesel has the potential of savings of US$2 million per annum; 803 tonnes of natural gas per year (2.7 percent of the local gas market share) with a potential annual savings estimated at US$500,000 and reduction of the equivalent of 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year; 2,409 tonnes of carbon char to be used as a substitute for firewood, charcoal and coal; and 3 megawatts of electricity.

The project valued at $10 million is close to securing seed funding with resent endorsements and regulatory approval from the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority, electricity supplier ZETDC as well as from Rodan Engineering Company, a German engineering firm who are to supply the equipment, getting the start-up closer to obtaining seed funding from the African Development Bank (AfDB) that has promised to bankroll the project under its Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA).


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