DA: We'll have more than enough bioethanol
ROXAS CITY (6 September) -- The country would be capable of producing more than enough bioethanol to meet the requirements under the Biofuels Act on the blending of crop-based alternative fuels with gasoline by 2009, according to Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) has already validated a total of 60,250 hectares of new sugarcane areas identified by the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) that can produce a combined 274 million liters of bioethanol.
The DA was among the key agencies tasked to draw up the implementing rules and regulations (IRRs) of the Biofuels law.
The new potential sugarcane farms, which are on top of existing farms totaling 38,500 hectares, will be capable of producing more than enough bioethanol needed to meet the 2009 requirements of 255 million liters.
Yap said we need about ten refineries with at least 30 million liters annual capacity to produce this volume.
The Department of Energy (DOE) has reported that at least seven investors with a combined annual capacity of 402 million liters, or 46 percent more than the projected production of currently identified new cane farms, have already expressed interest in building sugar refineries to produce bioethanol.
This means that some 28,000 hectares of additional farms will have to be identified by the government to meet the projected capacity of these seven investors, Yap said.
The Biofuels Law of Republic Act 9367, which was enacted into law in January of this year, requires that all diesel engine fuel are to be pre-blended with 1percent biodiesel and 2 percent by February 2009. The law also requires that a minimum of 5 percent of ethanol be pre-blended with gasoline by February 2009, with the ratio doubling to 10 percent by February 2011.
The use of biofuels seeks to lessen the country's dependence on fossil oil whose importation costs the country hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Sugarcane is an annual crop with an estimated yield of 4,550 liters of biofuel per hectare. The first bioethanol plant in the country using sugarcane as feedstock is the San Carlos Bio-Energy Inc. facility in Negros Occidental, which is due to open in late 2008 or early 2009.
At present, Yap said sugarcane is the most reliable feedstock for bioethanol production because its farming technologies are available in the country, which now enjoys a large surplus sugarcane produce.
Capiz has signified its support to the country's relentless effort to harness alternative energy sources including bioethanol. The province has more than 8,000 hectares devoted to sugarcane production. Nevertheless, it wide tracts of lands that are suitable for cane production that have yet to be tapped for the purpose.
The existing local cane farms is part of the estimated 26,000 hectares of sugarcane producing areas in Panay Island which represents 6.9 percent of 377,000 hectares of cane farms in the country. (PIA) [top]