Biomass project proposed for Sierra Leone

By Lisa Gibson | July 12, 2011

A biomass power plant proposed near Makeni, Sierra Leone in Africa, would provide electricity for an ethanol refinery, as well as about 20 percent of the country’s national grid.

Addax Bioenergy S.A., a subsidiary of Swiss energy group the Addax & Oryx Group Ltd., has signed a loan agreement with seven European and African development institutions for the €258 million ($360 million) integrated renewable energy and agriculture project. It will include the biomass power plant, ethanol refinery and greenfield sugarcane plantation.

The project has been developed alongside one of the most extensive and transparent dialogue and consultation processes ever carried out in Sierra Leone, according to the country’s Environmental Protection Agency and local nongovernment organizations.

The location of the field and irrigation systems within the sugarcane plantations was carefully selected to protect biodiversity and existing farmland, Addax & Oryx said. Less than one-third of the project area, leased from traditional landowners, will be used by the project, keeping impacts to a minimum. In addition, a number of mitigating measures, including provision, plowing and planting of alternative land, will be taken if any nearby village has existing farmland that will be affected.

Construction of the ethanol plant and biomass plant will begin later this year with operation beginning in 2013. The project already employs more than 700 people and will create more than 2,000 jobs in steady operation, according to Addax & Oryx.