Bioethanol demonstration plant commissioned


Guyana’s first bioethanol demonstration plant was commissioned by President Donald Ramotar and Agriculture Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy at the Albion Sugar Factory on Tuesday.


The $85 million plant funded by the Inter-American Development Bank-Japanese Special Fund for Sustainable Energy and Climate Change and the government of Guyana was developed through a technical cooperation. It was designed to fulfil three primary objectives: demonstrate the production of fuel grade ethanol locally, provide fuel for future demonstration of use of ethanol as a vehicle source, and develop the facility for training of local personnel in bio-fuel technologies.

President Donald Ramotar cutting the ribbon to commission Guyana’s first bioethanol demonstration plant on Tuesday at the Albion Sugar Factory

President Donald Ramotar cutting the ribbon to commission Guyana’s first bioethanol demonstration plant on Tuesday at the Albion Sugar Factory


In delivering the feature address, President Ramotar said the plant signals the great potential that lies within the country’s energy sector. In wake of the many challenges faced by the sugar industry, the president remains a strong believer that it is the gateway to greater industries, as he alluded to alternative sources of energy. “It has remained fundamentally the producer of raw sugar, but it has enormous potential, so we can produce many other things from the sugar industry. One of it is fuel,” he said.


Reflecting on the late 1990s when the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) had developed the concept of the Skeldon Sugar Factory, the president said the company had underscored the importance of building the industry into one that was multi-faceted, as it took into consideration a range of projects, including the production of fuel. Today, the commissioning of the bioethanol demonstration plant is the manifestation of government moving a step closer to realising its goals. “This demonstration plant has confirmed that the plans that we have are feasible plans,” he lamented.


Bioethanol, like hydropower energy, is an alternative source of cheap and reliable energy, which is critical to the development of the country’s commercial sector. The usage of alternative energy also aids in the fight against climate change and global warming, he stressed.


Energy policy


Dr Ramsammy said while Guyana has produced bioethanol before, it is the first time the country has produced almost pure bioethanol. “DDL and others have been producing ethanol at a purity of about 95 per cent…. but this plant is producing greater than 99 per cent.”


Additionally, the People’s Progressive Party government has aided in the production of small amounts of biodiesel, which was used to fuel vehicles in Region One.


The bioethanol produced by the plant will be used in GuySuCo’s laboratories and industrial processes. Further, a small number of vehicles from the sugar corporation and the Agriculture Ministry would begin using an E10 mixture – a 10 per cent ethanol blend of gasoline. The agriculture minister’s vehicle is not an exception. “I do know that the Prime Minister’s Office has been working on the Transport Fuel Policy that includes at a minimal, an E10 formula in the future. The plant will allow us to do the feasibility study on the use of E10 in Guyana,” Minister Ramsammy reported.


He said his ministry continues to push for an energy policy which has been long in the making.




The demonstration plant is a two-component system – the first produces hydrous ethanol (95 per cent from molasses) and the second; anhydrous ethanol (99.9 per cent) which uses membrane technology. These systems were designed by Green Bio of Porto Alegre in Brazil and the second by White Fox from Calgary, Canada. The plant will be run by GuySuCo technician Sharma Dwarka.


GuySuCo Chief Executive Officer Paul Bhim; the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute chief Dr Oudho Homenauth, the Agriculture Ministry Bio-energy Programme Coordinator Dr Clairmont Clementson, Green Bio representative Bruno Mallman and White Fox representative Dr Stephen Blum were among the other officials present during the commissioning ceremony.
Dr Blum, who had led the team for the construction of the demonstration plant, said it is a cornerstone to Guyana’s development. “For us at White Fox, we see this as a very, very important project and we believe that it actually gives you a wide variety of opportunities,” he said, noting that the plant is the first of its kind the company has created in the world.


According to the White Fox representative, the demonstration plant is easy to operate, pointing out it is possible to scale up the plant without major changes. “It gives you the capacity to produce ethanol within any range and quantity that you want.”
A seminar on expanding bio-energy opportunities in Guyana in August 2007 had sparked an interest in the production of biodiesel and bioethanol, in wake of increasing fuel prices.


“A competitive agro industry sector gives rise to the possibility of increased financial returns on investments related to the sugar cane industry through the sale of carbon credits derived from the reductions in CO2 emissions,” Dr Homenauth posited as he gave a backdrop to the project. According to him, the reductions can be obtained directly and indirectly through the use of bioethanol and biodiesel, cogeneration with bagasse and methane abatement from biofuel wastewater treatment and processes. (