Biofuel potential in Guyana

Feb 2007

Guyana depends on imported fuels to meet the needs of its transport sector. In recent years, prices of derivatives of petroleum have increased significantly, further widening the current account deficit. In 2005, fuel accounted for 29% of the value of import of the country.
The technology of using ethanol mixed with gasoline in four-stroke cycle engines is well known, and, does not require any changes in vehicles for levels of ethanol in the mixture up to 10%. This technology is used in many countries with vehicle fleets similar to those of Guyana.
The sugar cane industry of Guyana constitutes one of the most important economic activities of the country and is one of the main sources of foreign exchange. However, it is subject to very significant market risks, associated with changes in the Sugar Protocol and the reduction of preferential prices on the market of the EU.
A diversity of raw materials, sweet or starchy, maybe considered for the production of ethanol. However, when considering costs, available technology and energy productivity, sugar cane (directly as juice or as molasses) presents the most attractive option. In time, other possibilities may be considered.
In the most conservative scenario (uses of final molasses, producing 8.8 liters of ethanol per ton of processed sugar cane), it is estimated that 30.8 million liters of ethanol may be obtained annually from the sugar cane industry in Guyana. This would be nearly 3 times the anticipated demand of 11.5 million liters, if a mixture of gasoline with 10% ethanol were to be used in Guyana’s vehicles. If other raw materials with higher productivity (sugar cane juice or primary molasses) are considered, the available potential ethanol would increase proportionally.
Present conditions of the energy and the agro-industrial sector of Guyana provide an excellent opportunity for the production and use of ethanol as a source of fuel in the country. Furthermore, in addition to price considerations, it is important to be able to produce locally part of the national energy demand, using available natural resources and proven technology. This would also stimulate diversification in the sugar cane industry which is currently exposed to well known challenger. Moreover the use of ethanol as a source of energy would have significant environmental advantages. All together, these conditions make a decidedly sufficient and convincing case to promote the use of ethanol for energy security in Guyana.

By: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)

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