Eni founds the first agri-hub in Kenya for the pressing of seeds for biofuels: it is the future of sustainable mobility

Biofuels represent one of the most viable alternatives to switch to sustainable mobility.

The secret is in the non-food seed oil, specifically castor, croton nuts and derivatives of cotton. The good news is that this is obviously a slow transition, but one that has already begun. In October 2022, the Eni biorefinery in Gela received the first shipment of oil from Kenya.

The goal is to obtain 700,000 tons of feedstock by 2026 , while creating job opportunities through the expansion of agricultural activities in marginal and abandoned lands without competing with food production.

The fuel obtained gives excellent results especially in heavy transport, such as planes, trains and ships.

The second good news is that the project, one of many intended for the decarbonisation of mobility undertaken by Eni, provides for excellent social repercussions in the territories where the agri-hubs are being built from the energy company.

Agri-feedstocks are the future of mobility

In this sense, Eni is developing a network of agri-hubs in African countries. It has already signed agreements in Kenya, Congo, Angola, Mozambique, Ivory Coast, Rwanda and launched feasibility studies in Kazakhstan and Italy.

In the agri-hub, the seeds are pressed, produced in the fields by farmers, from which to extract oils for refining.

In Kenya alone, at the moment, 40,000 small and large farmers are diversifying their crops to transform them into agri-feedstock, the raw material which will be transformed first into vegetable oil and then into biofuels. The project is virtuous in every part.

On the one hand, it intelligently intervenes in the recovery of degraded land, at risk of desertification or polluted.

On the other hand, it gives rise to a stable and constant economy which, given the growth in demand for agricultural oils to be transformed into biofuels, has a foreseeable future and development.

Furthermore, the agri-hubs will also function as a training and technical support hub. Here, feed and bio-fertilizers will be produced, derived from the production of agri-feedstock, which can be valorised and go towards increasing livestock and food production.

A solution for energy, a solution for humans

Starting from 2023, the European directive on the production of vegetable oils for biofuels defines the basic standards for the production of biofuels. Simple rules: agri-feedstocks must not impact the cultivation of food products and must not cause deforestation.

Obviously that is not enough: in fact, it is a matter of creating what is defined as the Just Transition, a paradigm of projects in which sustainability and the environment alongside the rational use of research to develop seeds that are increasingly suitable for the soils of the areas intercepted by the new biofuel business.

Arid regions at risk of erosion, where agri-hubs will be able to improve the quality of life of one million families by 2030. Alberto Piatti, Eni's head of sustainable development points out that: "We are carrying out an assessment in socio-economic terms to monitor and verify the improvement of income capacity that this system introduces into the lives of farmers, with particular attention to respect for human rights".

Eni does not stop at agri-hubs

In Kenya, Eni is also collecting used cooking oils, which are technically called UCO, in bars, restaurants and hotels in Nairobi.

In other words, frying oil recovered through awareness work.

The transformation of waste into a value, one of the basic concepts of sustainability, in this case has concrete health and economic repercussions.

The oil collected at the Eni depot in Nairobi is then loaded by rail and transported to the port of Mombasa, to then arrive in Gela. Where it will increase biofuel oil stocks.