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Kenya greenlights sugar power project

by Staff Writers
Nairobi (AFP) July 1, 2008
Kenya has given the green light to a project where sugar will be grown to generate power in coastal wetlands, despite objections by environmentalists, its government said Tuesday.

The 24-billion-shilling (369.3-million-dollar or 235-million-euro) Tana Integrated Sugar Project will mill 8,000 tonnes of sugar cane daily, generate 34 megawatts of electrity and produce 23 million litres of ethanol a year.

Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Nature Kenya has opposed the project, which is to cover more than 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) of the Tana River Delta, saying it would damage the fragile ecosystem.

"This is an important project that is being implemented with full government support for the benefit of the local people," Regional Development Minister Fred Gumo told reporters.

"We have a lot of people who import sugar in this country and they are the ones who don't want this project to take off."

Mumias Sugar Company owns 51 percent of the project, to be sited about 120 kilometres (75 miles) north of the port city of Mombasa, while the rest is owned by state-run Tana and Athi River Development Authorities and local residents.

Conservationists have warned that loss of grazing and crops caused by the project would incur serious land damage in the protected aera.

Aside from inflation and steep oil prices, demand for biofuels has also been blamed as a contributory factor towards the global food crisis that has sparked riots in many poor nations, including Kenya.

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Abandoned Farmlands Are Key To Sustainable Bioenergy
Stanford CA (SPX) Jun 27, 2008
Biofuels can be a sustainable part of the world's energy future, especially if bioenergy agriculture is developed on currently abandoned or degraded agricultural lands, report scientists from the Carnegie Institution and Stanford University.

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