The Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) has said it will allow ethanol-producing companies to start selling the product in service stations between July and August, depending on the conclusion of the pricing framework.
Mera has in the past years supported ethanol-producing companies, Ethanol Company (EthCo) Limited in Nkhotakota and Presscane in Chikwawa, in re-examining the pricing model for the product as well as facilitating the development of a standard for the 100 percent fuel ethanol by Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS).
Mera chief executive officer Elias Hausi, in an interview on Wednesday, said despite rolling out ethanol usage, the country will still be importing petrol and diesel.
“We have not yet finalised the date when ethanol will be found in filling stations, but hopefully July and August will be the ideal months. Through the enforcement of blending ratio for the other type of ethanol (anhydrous alcohol), Mera assisted in ensuring that there is adequate market for the ethanol and the process promotes import substitution and security of supply,” he said.
Figures from Mera show that the country consumes more than 100 million litres of fuel [petrol and diesel] per annum while the national production capacity for ethanol is currently about 22 million litres, out of which only 15 million is used as fuel.
Hausi said ethanol-producing companies are working to increase the volumes to 36 million litres should investments in additional sources of feedstock materialise.
He said in the same vein, Mera will continue to promote the industrial grade ethanol (rectified alcohol) in its use as fuel ethanol at 100 percent.
“We will be reviewing the price of the ethanol every month to ensure that the industry is cushioned from adverse movements in economic fundamentals such as inflation and exchange rate.
“At the same time we will be ensuring that the pricing is fair to the consumer. There is still a long way to go before we can talk of substituting imported fuel,” said Hausi, adding that vehicle owners will be required to buy a gadget that will be fitted in their cars for them to use the product.
Earlier, officials at Presscane confirmed they were working with Mera to make sure that service stations start stocking ethanol, but could not provide more details, arguing they were still working on a communication strategy for the company on the same.