Biofuels, like biodiesel and bioethanol, are derived from biomass (plants and other organic wastes) and they provide a safe and sustainable alternative to using fossil fuels to power vehicles and machinery.

In rural areas biofuels can be used in mechanised milling and small scale electrification systems. In cities, they are widely used for transport, thereby reducing the damage caused by greenhouse gas emissions. 

GVEP is supporting a number of biofuel initiatives across Africa and the Caribbean.


Biofuel from hydro-fat waste in Suriname

N.V.VSH Foods is a prominent hydro-fats manufacturer, supplying both the local and regional market in Paramaribo, Northern Suriname. GVEP has been helping them grow their business and make it more cost efficient. To reduce operating costs, VSH started using their waste fats and oils to make biodiesel to power their boilers. They have now completed plans to increase biodiesel production, so that it may be sold to other companies for industrial use.

Since winning the IDEAS Energy Innovation Contest in 2012 sponsored by UK Aid, the Inter-American Development Bank and the South Korean Government; N.V. VSH Foods have targeted to substitute 50% of their diesel needs with biofuels (provided by in-house waste recycling). This will provide savings on operating costs and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. With a total grant of £200,000 N.V. VSH was able to purchase a biofuel plant and collection vehicle. They are now collecting waste oil from industrial and commercial suppliers, with whom they have a gentlemen’s agreement, to turn it into biodiesel for industrial use.

GVEP are the operating partners for the IDEAS 2 Contest and have been assisting VSH to find a suitable company with whom they can do a study tour, so that their staff can observe a full-scale biodiesel business in operation. This will help VSH foods to better understand their business and eventually achieve their aim of providing additional funds for use in community development and education. It is hoped that the collection and re-use of used oils will reduce the adverse environmental impacts caused by disposing waste cooking oil into drains, which can result in severe flooding in many parts of the city.


  Biofuel from banana waste in the Caribbean

A new power plant in the Caribbean island of St Lucia, will use banana waste to produce methane via biodigesters. The methane will power the plant itself and also be used to produce ethanol.

Banana exportation is one of St Lucia’s largest industries and the island is home to three international banana companies. This project will use their waste to create power. This will not only be sold as ethanol to the transport industry, it will also be able to power the plant itself – making running costs very low.

Ken Aldonza, the Mechanical Engineer who leads the company, will use a new four-stage fermentation process that is much more productive and cost effective than traditional batch processes. His business will enable local banana farmers to generate new income by selling their waste and by using biodigester waste as organic fertiliser. Besides, the resulting crops will also have a higher market value than non-organic produce.

The factory will make money by selling ethanol to the transport industry and the wider environment will benefit from the resulting use of cleaner fuel.
Many Caribbean islands produce bananas and other sugar-rich crops. The processes and equipment needed to open further plants there will be the same – meaning the project could have far reaching benefits.

This project thanks to a grant awarded by the 2009 IDEAS Energy Innovation Contest.  The contest, jointly sponsored by GVEP, GIZ, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Korean Government aimed at improving energy efficiency and expanding access to renewable energy in the region.