Biofuel Increasingly Replacing Coal in Almaty Region

BiofuelBoilers and furnaces that use biofuel will be installed in 26 educational institutions in the Almaty region as the result of an agreement between the regional administration and the new Kazakh-German joint venture, Torch Ltd.

Torch, established in the Koksu district, manufactures fuel pellets made from agricultural waste, including straw, hay, rice and soy waste products. The pellets emit a minimal amount of harmful substances when burned and can replace coal, oil and diesel fuel for heating. The pellets are cheaper than diesel fuel: two tons of pellets provides the same heating power as one ton of diesel fuel, but the price of two tons of pellets is 50,000 tenge (about US$325), while a ton of diesel is currently 125,000 tenge (about US$812).

Ivan Girchenko, a Torch representative, said the project will address a number of topical issues related to energy security, environmental protection and frugality. The investment in construction, procuring equipment and commissioning the work was just over $203,000, which the company expects to pay off soon. Torch can produce more than half a ton of pellets in an hour.

The plant is also expected to benifit local farmers. The company has already concluded contracts to supply raw materials to several farming partnerships. Straw pellets can be used not only as fuel but also as livestock feed.

Torch plans to expand their production and create new jobs in the community. In the future, local authorities intend to establish similar mini-factories in several districts, eventually producing enough pellets to heat all of the Zhetisu district’s public buildings with biofuel.