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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2708

Roadmap for development of biofuels in Sri Lanka

Sunil C. Perera - Reporting from Colombo

Colombo, 09 DEcember, (Asiantribune.com): Sri Lanka Energy Managers Association (SLEMA) in association with Winrock International India (WII) under a technical assistance programme sponsored by the European Commission have initiated a study programme ProBios to promote Biofuels in the region.

The experts of this group has launched a road map under this study and it proposes 5 alternative routes to reach the 20% by 2020 target, initiated by fuel additives, where small percentage of Biofuels are mixed with traditional fuels to gain more mileage out of them.

It also proposes to increase the blend of Biofuels from 10% to 100% with technology maturity. Zero import taxes on 100% Biofuel vehicles are also projected as a measure, which will drive this programme forward.

It is expected that the new industry will provide employment opportunities to rural communities and sound investments opportunities to local business community as the technology is offered in an affordable scale, unlike the traditional petroleum industry which requires major investments, said Professor Priyantha Wijetunga , Director General of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka and Chairman of the Sri Lanka Energy Managers Association.

This workshop was well attended, graced by all stakeholders, including Government policy makers, academics, researchers and the business community.

The Biofuel Programme comes at a time where the costs of petroleum fuels have reached historical heights. Sensing the dangers laying ahead, the Government took several initiatives such as National Energy Conservation Programme and appointment of an Inter-ministerial Working Committee on Biofuels, to fight the rising cost of oil.

ProBios Project aims at developing National and Regional capacity to develop Biofuels to a level where it is freely availably in commercial quantities. The economic context of Sri Lanka leaves room for developing Biofuels, as the country is already spending 1/4th of total export earnings to import petroleum products. This is expected to rise to 1/3rd of total export earnings in the event of oil price reaching 100$/bbl.

The country can take several routes in developing Biofuels where the two main thrusts could be sugarcane and oil seed plantations and the most viable end use in transport sector as substitutes for petrol and diesel fuels.

In the global context, the South American industrial giant Brazil has succeeded in substituting more than one third of their petrol use, with ethanol derived from sugarcane.

Similarly Sri Lanka too can venture into Biofuels as presented in a roadmap by targeting to replace 20% of transport fuel by 2020.

The land resources required for this ambitious target will be 300,000 hectares of oil seed plantations and 180,000 hectares for sugarcane plantations by 2020. This means a totally new plantation industry, comparable with the traditional export crops of tea, rubber, and coconut. This new industry will engage the rural farming community in an economic activity providing energy not only for the urban industrial sector but also for the attractive export market. Some Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and Philippines have already commenced shipment of Biofuel additives to European countries and have even realized Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) funds through such transactions.

The road map proposes 5 alternative routes to reach the 20% by 2020 target, initiated by fuel additives, where small percentage of Biofuels are mixed with traditional fuels to gain more mileage out of them. The roadmap also proposes to increase the blend of Biofuels from 10% to 100% with technology maturity. Zero import taxes on 100% Biofuel vehicles are also projected as a measure which will drive this programme forward.

It is expected that the new industry will provide employment opportunities to rural communities and sound investments opportunities to local business community as the technology is offered in an affordable scale, unlike the traditional petroleum industry which requires major investments.

- Asian Tribune -

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