PGMA: Fast-track alternative fuels program
ROXAS CITY (14 June) -- President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has instructed concerned government agencies to fast track the development of newly discovered alternative fuels bio-ethanol and bio-diesel.
Bio-ethanol can be obtained mainly from sugarcane while bio-diesel has a ready source in the country's abundant coconut plants. Other sources of ethanol are cassava, sweet sorghum and sweet potato. Bio-diesel can also be extracted from the jatropha plant, which also thrives naturally in the country.
In a statement, Malacaņang said the government, through the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC), is looking into alternative fuels as the best solution to resolve the country's dependence on imported crude oil and cut its greenhouse gas contribution.
The strong government support and the presence of a biofuels law, which President Arroyo signed in February of this year, have made the Philippines into one of the most attractive investment sites in the Asian region.
Also, the country has large tracts of idle lands suitable for jatropha plantations, plus the appropriate climate and a good labor force, which has been acknowledged worldwide for its good quality and work ethics.
Malacaņang also said investments in biofuel development include a two-billion dollar infusion committed by British firm NRG Chemical Engineering Pte. Ltd. and Tian Biogreen Energy Ltd. Investment for the next three years plus tie-ups with Sumitomo Corp., Samsung Corp. and Headwaters Inc.
Cosmo Oil, a Japanese company engaged in oil refining and sales, also plans to set up in Leyte a $100-million bioethanol plant and a $50-million biodiesel plant.
The bioethanol plant will need 34,000 hectares of land for a cassava plantation, 36,000 hectares for a sweet potato plantation, 76,000 hectares for a yam plantation and 40,000 hectares for a sugarcane plantation. On the other hand, the biodiesel project will need 17,000 hectares to be planted with oil palm and 61,000 hectares for copra production.
In Capiz, the provincial government has expressed its support to the government's alternative fuel development efforts by way of a resolution passed in 2006 by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.
The province also has wide tracts of sugarcane and coconut plantations. It has one sugar mill in President Roxas town and a village-level coconut oil mill located at Barangay Ondoy in Ivisan town.
More than 200 families in the hinterland barangays of Tapaz and Jamindan towns that are not accessible to the existing power grid have been using solar energy to light up their homes and operate basic household appliances for about three years now. (PIA) [top]