Lemna develops Nigeria's first ethanol plant

By | March 06, 2007
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Ethanol will soon make its debut in Nigeria in a project headed by Minnesota-based Lemna International Inc.

Ameesha Chandnani, project manager for Lemna International, said the company signed a contract in December with the Nigerian state government of Taraba to develop a 20 MMgy ethanol plant that will use sugarcane as a feedstock. The company plans on breaking ground in April. "This is a textbook version of a start-to-finish project," Chandnani said. "Like our CEO [Viet Ngo] calls itit's the wild, wild west out there." The somewhat remote, undeveloped region will benefit from new crop production in the agricultural sector, job creation and renewable energy supplies.

Nigeria may be an oil-producing country, but it faces endemic poverty and energy shortages. Reliable electrical and fuel supplies will be a challenge for the new plant. Furthermore, sugarcane is well-suited to the soil and climate, but little is grown in the agricultural region. Developing a sugarcane industry is part of the project scope.

Lemna is also committed to assembling the estimated $50 million to $57 million financial package. "Announcement of the project has created quite a buzz," Chandnani said. "A green renewable energy project is appealing to a lot of development banks, especially a project in Africa."

When Lemna considers a project in a developing country, it looks first for government backing. Financial backing and available technical expertise follow closely behind. While it develops projects for private clients, most of its Third World infrastructure projects are undertaken by government entities. "Our CEO has a personal mission in the development of Third World countries and green technologies," Chandnani said.

This will be the first ethanol plant that Lemna International has developed. The company works worldwide on infrastructure development projects, such as road building, potable water systems, waste treatment, and commercial and industrial development. In Nigeria, the company has built roads and developed real estate projects. Lemna International's sister company Lemna Techonologies Inc. is known in the United States and Canada for its wastewater treatment design.