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Government starts review of biofuel program

The Energy Department will revisit the country’s biofuel program and come up with “more realistic targets,” a government official said.

Energy Undersecretary Jay Layug told reporters the country’s bioethanol production had remained minimal compared with demand since the passage of the Biofuels Law in 2006.

“Five years ago, the government wanted the Philippines to be the top ethanol producer in Asia but we hardly produced,” Layug said.

Bioethanol is used as additive to gasoline under the Biofuels Law, to reduce the country’s dependence on imported fuels.

Current production of bioethanol is placed at just 79 million liters from three plants, namely San Carlos Bioenergy, Leyte Agri Corp and Roxol Bioenergy.

Green Futures Innovations, which will produce 54 million liters, is set for commissioning this year while Cavite Biofuels and Kanlaon AlcoGreen are expected to produce 34 million liters and 45 million liters, respectively, over the next two years.

The government, meanwhile, expects bioethanol demand to reach 500 million liters this year.

“We will revisit the national biofuels program and then update it. And hopefully provide a more realistic target in the next five years,” he said.

Layug said the government also wants to update the bioethanol program after the release of a department circular prioritizing the utilization of locally-produced bioethanol as a blend to gasoline.

“We want to update it in light of the circular. We hope the local ethanol industry will be developed given the government support through the DoE circular,” the energy official said.

Layug said the department had also started consultations on the possibility of increasing biodiesel blend to 5 percent from the current 2 percent.

“Whether it is feasible to move to B2 from B5, this year we will look into that. We will go around cities and conduct consultations,” he said.

Meanwhile, DMCI Holdings, controlled by the Consunji Group, plans to put up a 7.5-megawatt, coal-fired power plant in Tablas, Romblon.

DMCI Holdings president Isidro Consunji told reporters Tablas was one of the three missionary electrification areas of National Power Corp that the government planned to privatize.

“They just asked us to express submit letters of interest. For Tablas, we did due diligence. We’re looking at coal, more or less, 7.5 MW,” Consunji said.

He said building a coal plant was expensive but still cheaper than diesel-fired stations.

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