The Department of Agriculture-Philippine Agricultural Development and Commercial Corp. is currently monitoring a total of 49 active biofuel projects by 40 companies

The Department of Agriculture-Philippine Agricultural Development and Commercial Corp. is currently monitoring a total of 49 active biofuel projects by 40 companies, including the San Carlos Bioenergy Inc., in the country, PADCC president Marriz Agbon said.

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Of these projects, 28 are biodiesel, 20 are bioethanol, and one is an integrated project involving the production of biodiesel and bioethanol, he said in his speech at the SCBI inauguration in San Carlos City Friday.

Given all these, we can expect a total of some P40.8 billion worth of investments for the agricultural side, and some P42.5 billion for the plant side, Agbon added.

SCBI is showing the way in the development and promotion of green energy technologies, and on how agriculture can generate a resource that possesses strategic value in the global economy, he said.

In March this year, SCBI delivered its shipment of 1.6 million liters of ethanol to Petron, in keeping with the intentions of Republic Act 9367, which directed the use of biofuels, he noted.

“The achievement of SCBI could serve as a strong encouragement for other biofuels companies, especially firms that are into bioethanol production, to speed up the completion of their projects, and also for other investors by showing them that such endeavor is indeed possible,” he said.

With regards to bioethanol projects, including the bioethanol component of the integrated biofuels, some 243,200 hectares of lands will be needed to attain target production, he said.

Of this area 212,200 hectares are considered idle or for expansion, he said.

Agbon said he does not see any competition, between biofuel production and food security.

“I want to stress that the government is pursuing its biofuel development program making use of underutilized and marginal lands to avoid competition with production areas for our main food staples,”“I want to stress that the government is pursuing its biofuel development program making use of underutilized and marginal lands to avoid competition with production areas for our main food staples,” he said.

In fact, government has already identified and delineated marginal and underutilized lands where plantations could be established for biofuel feedstock production, he said.

“This database is already available to interested investors, including a menu of possible biofuel feedstock that thrives best in specific areas in the country,” Agbon added.

The Philippine biofuels law mandates the use of 1 percent biodiesel blend in diesel fuel and 5 percent bioethanol blend in gasoline sold at pump stations. The mandated blend will rise to 2 percent for biodiesel after two years, and to at least 10 percent for bio-ethanol after two years.

This year, the country will be requiring 268 million liters of the bioethanol blend, 594 million liters by 2011, and 721 million liters by 2015, he said.

As such, demand for bioethanol feedstock is also expected to soar to 10.3 million tons for sugarcane, 14.42 million tons for sweet sorghum, and 4 million tons for cassava by 2015, he added.

At present, the country’s two ethanol producers, SCBI and Leyte Agri Corp., can only produce as much with their combined annual capacity of 39 million liters, he said.

“The emerging revolution in biofuels has opened up new prospects for the Philippines and other developing countries – stronger energy security, new sources of incomes and livelihood and reduced greenhouse gas emissions and pollution from fossil fuels – which, even a few years ago, seemed almost unimaginable,” he said.*CPG

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