FRIDAY, APRIL 27, 2007
EU to study and support Guyana's biofuels sector
A two-member delegation from the European Union (EU) is in the South
American country of Guyana to identify possible areas where the EU may
be able to support the country's biofuel plans, which have gained
momentum over the last few weeks.
The two officials are traveling to the six regions in the African,
Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, who enjoy a special relationship
with the EU when it comes to sugar exports. Guyana was identified as the
first country for study within the Caribbean. The two experts determined
that Guyana has a very interesting set of biofuel projects and policies,
and that in the coming years, there will be plenty of efforts globally
to develop bioenergy. They related that the information gathered will be
used to advise policy makers in the EU. The Union may then assist Guyana
in acquiring biofuel technologies and in the creation of export markets
and appropriate policy frameworks.
Bernard Duhamel and Jean Raux, the two experts from France, met with
Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud to discuss the core elements of
Guyana's biofuel plans. Persaud told the EU officials that Guyana
prefers to look at sugarcane production for ethanol and utilise coconut
as a potential for biodiesel.
Persaud gave assurances that Guyana intends to use land that is
currently uncultivated. He said that Guyana is currently examining five
investment proposals and has identified 50,000 hectares of land in
Canje, Region Six, for cane cultivation. He said that the investor will
have to bear the cost of development of the land within the cost model,
adding that there is an existing infrastructure for shipping. "Primarily
we see this as private sector investment and, at the end of the day, it
is the investor that will have to come and run the numbers," Persaud stated.
He pointed to the recent biofuel study conducted by the Economic
Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), entitled
"Biofuel Potential in Guyana" (earlier post). The report concluded that
present conditions of the energy and agro-industrial sector of Guyana
provide an excellent opportunity for the production and use of ethanol
as a source of fuel in the country:
The report stated that when considering costs, available technology and
energy productivity, sugar cane, directly as juice or as molasses,
presents the most attractive option. In time, other possibilities may be
In the most conservative scenario, using final molasses, producing 8.8
litres of ethanol per tonne of processed sugar cane, the report
estimated that 30.8 million litres of ethanol may be obtained annually
from the sugar cane industry in Guyana. This would be nearly 3 times the
anticipated demand of 11.5 million litres, if a mixture of gasoline with
10 percent ethanol was to be used in Guyana's vehicles.
Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo has established an
Inter-Ministry/Agency Working Group on Biofuels/Agro-energy.
The ECLAC report advised that the promotion of ethanol as a source of
fuel in Guyana requires the collaboration of all institutions and
stakeholders arriving at an operational mechanism for the introduction
of ethanol within the energy sector.
For such an initiative to be successful, the report stated, clear
timelines should be established and commitments obtained. There should
also be the component of building public awareness as well as
involvement of the local science and technology community.