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    Guyana’s Biofuels Potential

    By Keith R | July 23, 2007

    Topics: Biofuels, Energy & the Environment | No Comments »

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    Not too long ago the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) released a report assessing Guyana’s potential as a producer of biofuels. The report did not receive much attention outside of Guyana at the time, so I thought I would provide a quick look at it here on The Temas Blog, as any effort by the government to implement its recommendations would cause profound changes in Guyana’s agricultural, energy, trade and environment profiles. Now, with the recent announcement of an agreement with Brazil to develop Guyana’s ethanol potential, I think it may be even more timely to take a look at the report’s findings and recommendations.

    breakdown of the demand for petroleum products in Guyana, 2005 (click to enlarge)Most of Guyana’s transport sector runs on imported (and more and more expensive) fuel. In 2005 fuel accounted for 29% of the country’s import bill, and in all likelihood, this pecentage has increased since. Hence it is not surprising that the government decided to assess the implications of a large-scale shift of some of Guyana’s sugar production into ethanol production.

    It turned to ECLAC for help. ECLAC hired and supervised a specialist to produce the study, with funding from Italy’s development cooperation agency, Cooperazione Italiana.

    The key points of the resulting study can be summarized as follows:

    Guyana's projected ethanol production potential (click to enlarge)The report warns 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 clear timelines should be established and commitments obtained. It should also include a component for building public awareness as well as involvement of the local science and technology community.

    The report suggests that a biofuels executive committee be set up based on the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) model, consisting of independent producers and the areas of government responsible for agriculture, energy and the environment. The main task of the committee would be to decide when ethanol blending should begin, at what initial proportion (probably between 5% and 10%) and how soon would it be stepped up to 10%.

    — Keith R

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