For how many hours did the Albion bioethanol plant operate in 2016 and 2017?

Dear Editor,

I refer to the letter by Ms Audreyanna Thomas in SN, Aug 12, titled ‘Molasses would be the preferred raw material for ethanol production in Guyana’ in response to the ongoing conversation on ethanol here. Editor, in this letter GuySuCo concludes molasses is the preferred feedstock for ethanol and, if used, ethanol production will be limited to 11.7 million litres. The corporation is saying that cane-to-ethanol is not a preferred feedstock and even if molasses is used, ethanol output will be low. Essentially, the Corporation is saying ‘no’ to ethanol in a very descriptive way. The corporation also uses numbers conveniently in some sections of its argument to articulate its position, then conceals them in other sections. For example, reference is made that 1 tonne cane =70 litres ethanol at best and 1 tonne molasses = 260 litres of ethanol. This shows that molasses produces more ethanol than cane but hides the fact that 1 tonne molasses is made after processing 25-33 tonnes of cane at GuySuCo’s mills (using molasses % on cane of 3-4).

Therefore, if we take the same amount of cane that makes 1 tonne molasses and make ethanol instead, we will get 1,750-2,310 litres ethanol (25×70 = 1,750 or 33×70 = 2,310) as opposed to 260 litres. The corporation further advances its arguments using studies conducted some 8-13 years ago. A pertinent question is: how relevant are those studies to present day and future conditions?

GuySuCo in its current shape and form cannot operate a viable ethanol facility using molasses as feedstock. Therefore, the corporation has two probable options: (1) Increase molasses production which translates to an increase in cane production or (2) convert cane directly to ethanol. Option 1 is not possible as the corporation’s policy is to downsize operations which is being implemented at this instant. This policy position is articulated in the State Paper on sugar. Option 2 will not be pursued either as there is zero commitment to conduct a study to confirm or dispute the viability of cane-to-ethanol.

It is an established fact that the bioethanol demonstration plant at Albion is not a commercial producer. Its objective, capacity and very name, explains that fact. I maintain that the CEO of GuySuCo stopped operations of the bio-ethanol demonstration at Albion; however, Ms Thomas claims that this information is misleading and inaccurate and the plant operates continuously in the cropping period. If this is so, I urge Ms Thomas to share with this nation the following specifics:

(1) How many hours did the plant operate per crop in 2016 and 2017?

(2) How many tonnes of molasses was used by the plant per crop in 2016 and 2017?

(3) How many litres of hydrous and anhydrous alcohol were produced per crop in 2016 and 2017?

(4) What was the average percent alcohol for hydrous and anhydrous per crop in 2016 and 2017?

(5)  How many litres of hydrous anhydrous ethanol was distributed to estates?

(6)  How many litres of anhydrous ethanol was blended with gasoline per crop in 2016 and 2017?

(7)  How many litres of E-10 blend was made used in 2016 and 2017?

(8)  What was the consumption rate on vehicles that used it?


Yours faithfully,

Sookram Persaud

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