Ethanol Fuel Development to Mitigate Fuel Crisis in Philippines

Development of renewable sources of fuel to counter economic hardships on Filipinos caused by the fuel crisis is a focus of the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Program and the Sustainable Energy Development Program of USAID through the Clean Cities Program.

For vehicles running on gasoline fuel, the Clean Cities Coalition is promoting the use of ethanol mixture, which can dramatically lower the cost of gasoline prices. Ethanol can be blended up to 20 percent of the gasoline mixture for normal vehicle engines, said Tony de Guzman, chief Science Research Specialist of the Department of Energy. Prices of fuel blended with ethanol can be reduced to about less than P30 a liter. And even a 5 percent ethanol blend, which is to be required under the proposed Bio-Ethanol bill filed by Bukidnon Representative Miguel Zubiri, would save about $300 million a year in foreign exchange for the country. Ethanol can be produced abundantly in the Philippines, as it is a product of many starch-rich root crops like sugarcane, corn, cassava, camote and gabi, said de Guzman. Development in ethanol production is underway, he added, with the building of an ethanol plant in San Carlos Negros Occidental in the heart of the country’s sugarlandia, due to be operational in 2007. Presently coco-methyl ester, also known as biodiesel, is already being distributed in the country. Using indigenous sources from the coconut palm, biodiesel is being sold as a fuel additive for vehicles with diesel engines, providing additional mileage, cleaner emissions, and better engine performance. In addition, Shell Philippines is planning to import ethanol fuel from Brazil.

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