Sunbird Bioenergy Limited has entered into an agreement with the Zimbabwean government and China New Energy to develop a bioenergy project which will produce 120m liters per year of fuel grade ethanol from cassava and potato, Newsday reported.

The project will be in the Mushumbi Pools area in Mashonaland Central and will result in the building of an ethanol production plant and a 36MW biomass power station.

Meanwhile, according to London South East, China New Energy said it is not currently involved in the deal. “It has been erroneously reported in the media that China New Energy has also entered into the agreement. Whilst China New Energy is not currently a party to the agreement, it is expected that China New Energy will enter into a memorandum of understanding with Sunbird shortly,” it said in a statement.

The power station will supply electricity to the ethanol plant and the remainder (33MW) will be channelled into the national power grid subject to a Power Purchasing Agreement with the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company.

Construction of the bio-refinery will commence in the second quarter of 2016 and will start production in the fourth quarter of that year. Full commercial capacity will be attained in the fourth quarter of 2017 and beyond.

Cassava, also known as tapioca or arrowroot, is a woody shrub found in tropical climates that can be converted into bioethanol, which is principally used as a substitute for petrol.