Ministry of Agriculture of Guyana : Guyana on path to agro fuel revolution – as President commissions bioethanol demonstration plant G


Guyana’s first ever bioethanol demonstration plant was commissioned today at what was regarded the start of an agro fuel revolution in a country that is leaning aggressively towards a renewable energy pathway.


The plant located at the Albion Estate on the Corentyne Coast in Region Six, will produce ethanol to a quantity of 1000 litres per day from “blackstrap” molasses, the final output from the sugar production process.


Being a demonstration plant, the agro fuel will serve commercial purposes, but will be applied to the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s (GuySuCo) laboratory and industrial practices and to fuel a small number of vehicles owned by the sugar company and the Ministry of Agriculture.


Some of it will be amalgamated with a small quantity of gasoline to create an E-10 formula which the Office of the Prime Minister will use as a model in the formulation of a transport fuel policy.


Technicians have assured however, that only one fraction of the molasses will be used and that the best technology is being applied to produce anhydrous ethanol at a minimum strength of 99.6 percent or greater.


President Donald Ramotar joined Minister of Agriculture Dr Leslie Ramsammy, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GuySuCo Paul Bhim, Bio Energy Programme Manager Dr Clairmont Clementson, Engineer Bruno Mallmann of Green Social Biorefineries in Brazil and, Stephen Blum of Canada’s WhiteFox Technologies Ltd in cutting the ribbon to the project and unveiling of the plaque.


The Head of State regarded today’s historic undertaking a vindication of the Government’s vision for the sugar industry to be more than a raw producer.


“Fundamentally it (sugar industry) has remained a producer of raw sugar, but it has enormous potentials that we can produce many other things from the sugar industry; one of it is fuel,” President Ramotar said.


With cheap energy among the benefits to be derived from ethanol, President Ramotar continues to tout the need for Guyana to make maximum use of renewable energy sources.


He pointed to several countries in the Caribbean and South America that are developing because of investment in cheap energy and the opportunity Guyana lost following the political fallout of the Amaila Falls Hydro Power Project (AFHP).


Green Social Biorefineries and WhiteFox Technologies Ltd are partners in the establishment of the plant following an initiative in 2007 to craft an Agro Energy Policy for the country.


A subsequent signing of a Technical Cooperation “Expanding Bioenergy Opportunities in Guyana” between the Guyana Government and the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) paved the way for the development of the small scale Bioenergy Demonstration Project.


During that period, the world was grappling with inflating oil prices and simultaneously, the European Union’s decision to slash its preferential price for sugar to the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) by 36 percent; a decision which impacted negatively on Guyana’s sugar industry and long-term economic growth.


“We were fighting to maintain the price (for sugar) and at the same time we were anticipating that should we lose that fight with the rest of the ACP countries, we should put ourselves in order so that we will be able to survive,” President Ramotar explained.


Training at the plant will be provided during the period August 19 to 21 for about 50 participants  on knowledge and understanding of the  main components, management of the plant during operations, bioethanol quality control, plant maintenance and safety guidelines.


The production of agro-fuel is included in the “F5″ strategy within the Ministry of Agriculture and the overall goal to develop an energy policy, Minister Ramsammy said.


According to the Agriculture Minister, the Albion plant joins the list of several bioethanol initiatives including attempts by Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL), and the production of biodiesel through the Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology (IAST).


Minister Ramsammy disclosed that at least two investors will be in Guyana to work on feasibility studies for the production of bio-fuel.


As the People’s Progressive Party Civic administration continues the campaign for hydro power in Guyana, Minister Ramsammy said the wait is overdue and Guyana’s development is at stake.


“It is time for Guyana to see the possibilities… for hydro electricity if we are going to address the energy insecurity that nations face, if we are going to ensure that people get access to affordable reliable energy… hydro must be accomplished now,” Minister Ramsammy urged.


The opposition party APNU voted against the Hydro Electric Power (Amendment) Bill and debt ceiling motion while the Alliance For Change supported the bill, but reduced the debt ceiling from $130B to $50B.  The opposition’s actions lead to the investor Sithe Global pulling out of the project, citing lack of political harmony.