Sunchem Biofuel South Africa

Sunchem SA is developing the energy rich tobacco crop “Solaris” in Southern Africa with the suport of SkyNRG, South African Airways and Boeing. Solaris is a nicotine and GMO free crop that yields significant amounts of high quality oil and animal feed. As of September 2015 the cultivation of Solaris has been certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) ensuring compliance with rigorous environmental and social standards.


Why South Africa?

There is a growing demand for sustainble biofuel and animal feed in Southern Africa. Solaris meets strict sustainability standards and yields significant amounts of vegetable oil, protein cake and both woody and green biomass. As such, the crop provides an opportunity to grow sustainable bio-energy and feed resources, while stimulation socio-economic development. The combination of available land (partly caused by the decreasing local conventional tobacco industry), a need for employment, the increased demand for sustainable bio-energy, and a existing knowledge on how to grow tobacco, provides an excellent opportunity to grow energy tobacco in South Africa.


In Agro operations, we deal with seeding production, planting, fertilizing, harvesting, processing and transport. For these operations we’re involved in both commercial and community farming. In the past 3 growing seasons Solaris has proven its agronomic and economic viability while maintaining the RSB sustainability standards.


At Project Solaris we believe that we can best contribute to the development of South Africa by creating local processing capacity for Solaris end-products. Therefore Project Solaris works on creating a local supply chain to press oil and produce animal feed products within South Africa. Hereby we maximize job creation and reduce South Africa’s reliance on fuel and feed imports.

Smallholder Support Program

The smallholder support program aims to ensure that emerging farmers will also have the opportunity to cultivate Solaris. We do this with the following activities:

  • Training farmers to grow their crops sustainably while increasing production

  • Engaging small holder farmers to identify roadblocks and monitor progress

  • Organizing best practice working groups for farmers

  • Value chain development (connecting small holders to end-markets)

  • Investigating possible integration with Health & Education program


It’s SkyNRG’s mission to play a pioneering role in creating a long-term sustainable future for aviation. SkyNRG is the global market leader for sustainable jet fuel, supplying more than 20 carriers across 5 continents in the world. Short term, the company is executing this mission via co-funded green routes and long term via developing BioPorts. Bioports are regional supply chains that offer a real sustainable and affordable alternative for fossil fuels. SkyNRG uses multiple technologies that are best suited for that particular region in the world and is supported by its leading global sustainability and technology board.

RSBCopy of RSB-CertifiedLogo

The Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) is a global movement to ens
ure the sustainability of biomaterials production through a comprehensive certification system. The RSB brings together a diverse coalition of over 100 organizations around the world including large and small farmers, companies, NGOs, experts, governments, and UN agencies. For more information see the Sunchem SA operator profile


The world’s largest aerospace company, is committed to take action to protect the environment and support long-term sustainable growth for commercial aviation. As part of this commitment, Boeing leads global industry efforts to develop and commercialize sustainable aviation biofuel. 

About South African Airways

South African Airways is committed to becoming the most environmentally sustainable airline group in the world by implementing a long term environmental strategy and policy that includes a commitment to a reduction in CO₂ emissions through the effective and continued use of sustainable alternative fuels.