Time To Transform The Sugar Industry

Submitted by Ready-Done

Ethonal Distillery

Ethanol Distillery

Sugar cane was king in Barbados from the beginning, however the preferential treatment sugar received is no longer a reality, but the industry’s infrastructure is still present, still no one with the authority seems to want to make a definitive decision as to how to progress the sugar cane industry. The value is no longer in the sugar but now in the sugar cane, to let a whole industry go to waste is such a shame when few well spent dollars can go a long way towards making the sugar cane king again.

In retrofitting the Barbadian sugar cane industry rather than letting it run to waste, everyone benefits, the first cry was for farmers to diversify to other food crops and stop planting sugar cane, while ‘diversifying’ is the answer, to stop planting sugarcane is not. The removal of any established industry is not wise. The decline in value of sugar is not from internal forces, and should serve as a reminder to all that it is best for Team Barbados to be as self sufficient as we can be. The diversifying should be done with the products that we get from sugar cane. We should focus on products that can be consumed locally and maintain or increase the value of the sugar cane crop. They are many alternative products but the two worth perusing are bio fuels and bio plastics.

Barbados has no other natural deposit of fuel present capable of meeting the islands need; currently we import US $29 million per year in fuel. Ethanol, which comes from sugar cane, can be used to offset such a large amount of money being sent abroad. Research shows that one dry ton of sugarcane bagasse can generate 80 gallons of ethanol. In 1999, 500,000 tons of sugarcane were produced (not dry). In theory that is between 20-40 million gallons of ethanol we could have produced. What to do with this ethanol? We mix it with gasoline and sell it direct to the consumer.

Ethanol fuel mixtures have “E” numbers which describe the percentage of ethanol in the mixture by volume, for example, E10 is 10% Ethanol and 90% gasoline, from E5 to E25, are also known as gasohol, though internationally the most common use of the term gasohol refers to the E10 blend. E10, can be used in the engines of most modern vehicles without need for any modification on the engine or fuel system. E10 blends are approved for use in all new US automobiles, and are mandated in some areas for emissions and other reasons.

Using Brazil’s successful 30 year old example as a model for implementing this bio fuel industry it is best to start with a mandatory E10 then increase the amount of ethanol gradually. As higher levels of ethanol require changes made to the car.

Ethanol is made much the same way as rum, the process is simple and could even be made in the backyard, making sale of crude cane juice commercially viable. As ethanol making can be done by existing rum factories or new producing plants can be made.

Bioplastics (also called organic plastics) are a form of plastics derived from renewable sources, in this case, sugar cane, rather than conventional petroleum bases plastics. Because of their biological degradability, the use of bio-plastics is especially popular for disposable items, such as packaging (trays and containers for fruit, vegetables, eggs and meat, bottles for soft drinks and dairy products) and catering items (crockery, cutlery, pots, bowls, and straws). The use of bio-plastics for shopping bags is already common. Some bio plastics possess the characteristic of being able to absorb water and are thus being used for the production of drug capsules in the pharmaceutical sector. Non-disposable applications include mobile phone casings, carpet fibers, and car interiors, fuel line and plastic pipe applications. Bio-derived polyethylene is chemically and physically identical to traditional polyethylene – it does not biodegrade but can be recycled.

Brazilian chemicals group Braskem claims that using its route from sugar cane ethanol to produce one tone of polyethylene captures (removes from the environment) 2.5 tones of carbon dioxide while the traditional petrochemical route results in emissions of close to 3.5 tones. Braskem plans to introduce commercial quantities of its first bio-derived high density polyethylene, used in a packaging such as bottles and tubs, in 2010 and has developed a technology to produce bio-derived butane, required to make the linear low density polyethylene types used in film production.

There are also fears that bioplastics will damage existing recycling projects. Packaging such as HDPE milk bottles and PET water and soft drinks bottles is easily identified and hence setting up a recycling infrastructure has been quite successful in many parts of the world. Polylactic acid and PET do not mix – as bottles made from polylactic acid cannot be distinguished from PET bottles by the consumer there is a risk that recycled PET could be rendered unusable. This could be overcome by ensuring distinctive bottle types or by investing in suitable sorting technology. However, the first route is unreliable and the second costly.

The figures relating to plastic use in Barbados are not available at this time but it is evident that it is a large industry and if the drink bottle and plastic industry were bases in sugarcane derived plastic money is to be made from sugar cane once more.

  • @Ready-Done

    Thanks for the submission, it is obvious you have given this matter some thought.

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  • Ready-Done, a good and inspiring article. Surely this is the type of incisive writing and analysis the PDC can readily identify with and that makes one feel that there are still a good few positive writers, hopefully action minded people as well, around in Barbados.

    Indeed, we would surely like to see many more of these kinds of articles on BU. For it is these kinds of technical-oriented and scientific-based articles that can be so important in helping to educate so many people on this blog – including ourselves. So, we are still confident about some things for the future in Barbados.

    But, just a couple questions though.

    Which bottles contain polylactic acid and that are so different from PET bottles?

    How can you – in your article – suggest the use of this Brazilian model in a technological way, yet – interestingly enough – you did NOT say anything about some of the assumptions underlying the Brazilian model which are clearly NOT applicable to Barbados? E.g. like the great, great acreage of lands that have been designated for the proper production of fuel cane in Brazil; the apparent enormous economies of scale that are involved in the Brazilian model and that speak to lower “prices” for their fuel; the great degree of integration among the various industrial sectors in Brazil – the ethanol production sector and, say, the automobile making or assembly industry, etc.

    And the final question. You did NOT zero in on – perhaps could NOT if you were thinking about conciseness of the article – the existing state of the different stages ( financially, technologically, managerially, materially, etc) that the sugar cane industry in Barbados is in at this juncture that would be necessary to help determine whether or NOT the production and marketing of bio-fuels and bio-plastics can soon be undertaken in Barbados. What do you have to say with regard to such dimensions?

    Finally, what is important is that mention was made in the article of the plastics recycling industry – more specifically the plastic bottle recycling business. Well, there can be NO doubt that it is a fairly fast becoming thriving industry in Barbados, and that it has the potential to be a major industry for Barbados – given esp. the huge mounds of garbage that are produced in Barbados daily – although we in PDC can safely say that it is being made to suffer from many of the effects of the recession in Barbados.

    What is clear, though, is that the plastic bottle recycling business at the level of those who walk or drive around and collect these bottles across the country – and hard bottles as well, has one fundamental thing going for it and that must be seen by many people in Barbados as a great incentive to the further progress and development of it – that is, the TOTAL ABSENCE OR NEAR TOTAL ABSENCE OF TAXATION FROM THESE TYPES AND LEVELS OF COMMERCIAL ACTIVITY.

    Such a situation is also relevant to other businesses in Barbados that do NOT find the government stealing portions of the incomes that are earned directly from involvement in such activities. For instance, the fruit selling business – dunks, ackees, plums – the coconut vending business – marijuana trade. So, you could see from this aspect why we are about the ABOLITION OF TAXATION in Barbados.
    So, there you have it Ready-Done.

    PDC

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  • Pingback: Global Voices Online » Barbados: Making Sugar Cane King

  • Or we could grow bamboo and make bamboo bicycles.

    On the outskirts of Lusaka, Zambia, next year’s crop of bicycles is being watered by Benjamin Banda.

    “We planted this bamboo last year,” he says, “and now the stems are taller than me. When it’s ready we’ll cut it, cure it and then turn it into frames.”

    Mr Banda, is the caretaker for Zambikes, a company set up by two Californians and two Zambians which aimed to build bikes tough enough to handle the local terrain.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8125274.stm

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  • Interesting to read Dr. Chelston Brathwaite in the press who is Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture making the point it is time for Barbados to stop exporting its primary products to the developed countries eg. Sugar. The developed countries use the primary product as input to build larger industries.

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  • Global economy to get ‘shock of its life’ when oil hits triple digits

    Energy expert and former CIBC economist Jeff Rubin says he’s doesn’t give a hoot if politicians read his book. When oil prices soar, ‘the folk’ will force the political players to do the right thing.

    Jeff Rubin says global economy will get the “shock of its life” within 12 months of the end of the recession when oil prices hit triple digits and the age of globalization starts to come to an end.

    The former maverick chief economist for CIBC’s World Markets for about 20 years and author of the new book Why Your World Is About To Get A Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization, says demand for oil will outstrip supply, food prices will soar, and countries will be shocked into growing their own food, manufacturing their own products, and paying a lot money more for everything.

    There will be winners and losers.

    The triple digit oil prices will do more for the environment “than 100 Kyotos,” he says, but if the world doesn’t get off oil, “the values of tolerance and equality may turn out to be artifacts of the era of cheap oil, and the world may face political and cultural upheaval in the stagnant economy of decades ahead.”

    SNIP

    Why do you say the end of the current recession will see oil prices rise to unprecedented levels and that reverse globalization is not necessarily a bad thing?

    “Well, oil prices will get to those levels because the only supply that we can bring on is an extremely expensive supply. Like, when the world’s relying on the Canadian oil sands to supply it with oil, it’s time to buy a bike. It’s the bottom of the barrel and it’s not that it isn’t there, it’s there, but it requires a hell of a lot of energy to get it out of the sands and to make that worthwhile you’re going to need triple-digit oil prices or people aren’t going to get funded to build $3-billion oil sands projects.”

    http://www.hilltimes.com/html/cover_index.php?display=story&full_path=/2009/june/15/qa_rubin/&c=1

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  • like energy expert and former CIBC economist Jeff Rubin i to can see oil prices giving trouble in couple years.

    @david it is more a matter of feeling like writing something, than anything else, i do have some interest in the topic, thinking of making my own backyard ethanol plant.

    @ PDC bottles made with sugarcane based plastic contain polylactic acid if those are recycled along with normal PET bottles the resulting plastic is useless, it has to be one or the other. This problem should not take long to get rid off, i would make the first batches of sugarcane based drink bottles yellow or some unique color and quickly phase out the old plastics.

    About the integration of various industrial sectors; in Barbados this is not necessary, i am sure someone with the power can use machinery available right now to produce enough E10 to run first the transport board, next, all government owned vehicles then the public in general.

    It seams we lack either the will, motivation, or critical thinking skills to keep up with the world, well in the government at least.

    Put up a 20yr contract for the supply of enough Ethanol to run the transport board i sure one of those Williams dudes would find a way, once a profit is involved. However i don’t have the same confidence in the government.

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  • Strangely enough, there is at this time in Barbados a critical dearth of information relative to the present performance of the economy of this country.

    Thus, we in the PDC and so many others are in the process of realizing a very defensive but dotish DLP Government that is simply NOT keen on releasing as much information as possible to the general public about the undeniable fact this so-called economy is absolutely crumbling and faltering, and that it has already entered a state of depression.

    Make no doubt about it, though, many of the masses and middle classes of people of Barbados must demand information from this DLP Government about the present state of this economy. They must jolt this DLP Government out of a state of self-satisfaction about denying the people of this country, information that is really theirs for the having.

    Also, what we in PDC have witnessed is that there has NOT been much public discussion on the present dire state of the Barbados economy – on the local calling programs, on the local blogs, in the local newspapers – exception The Barbados Business Authority – and in the wider media. Surely, there are major JOKE reasons – which we in the PDC do NOT accept – for this dotish DLP Government NOT keeping the broad masses and middle classes properly abreast of what is happening at the national, sub-national and international levels, material-wise, financial-wise and trade-wisely. But, what we know that there is within the government and within the wider media, a deliberate and unsavory political attempt, and we dare say a scheme of such a political nature – to keep as many people in Barbados as possible as muchly unaware as possible too of the existing horrible state of this economy.

    For, if the broad masses and middle classes were to ever be able to very much access such information, and be willing to accept the right political guidance on this information, and be willing to take serious political action on the basis of it against the DLP and the BLP, it would be so very important in helping make them greater aware of the fact that this country has been so increasingly grossly and recklessly mismanaged by both the BLP – during the 14 years prior to January 15 2008, and now by this DLP since the said January 15, 2008, and the fact that they – the DLP and the BLP – must be dealt some almighty political blows and kicked to France out of the parliament of this country, for the fundamental wrongs that they have done to these suffering people.

    Well, the fact is that the second quarter just gone is traditionally NOT one of the better quarters for business and commercial activity in the country. Thus, the members of our party do anticipate the Governor of the Central Bank in her second quarter review of the performance of the Barbados economy.

    And believe it, this review will produce a little more theoretical evidence again of the fact that this economy is performing badly in all major productive and distributive sectors, and that this DLP Government has been doing little or NOTHING to halt this deep slide downwards in the so-called economic and financial affairs of this country.

    Notwithstanding, such a critical absence of pertinent information at this time, we in PDC have long been seeing the real unvarnished evidence of the fact that the country’s economy has entered in a depression at this stage. On many streets in Bridgetown, esp. Swan Street and Tudor and Lower Roebuck Streets, there has been a drastic slow down in the movement of shoppers, when contrasted with better movements two years ago. Generally speaking, in the stores, shops, restaurants in Bridgetown there has been a serious decline in business activity since two years ago when business was more bustling.

    In Sheraton, in Oistins and Speightstown there has also been political economic and financial adversity visited upon these places when contrasted with a similar time period when there was greater movement of people and greater business activity. Even in many communities and villages across Barbados there have been many reports from so many people – some of whom we know – of the fact that they are NOT doing so well at all – financially and materially at this stage.

    We have therefore been subjected to the protestation, outcries and lamentations of many poor and middle class people in this country; some of whom – bawling and shouting out – have confided in and told us that they have NOT worked since last year or earlier up in the year; some of whom – hollering for blue murder – have stated that they have NOT done business since last year or earlier up in this year; some of whom have still been yelping and complaining about the very high cost of living and the very high cost of doing business in this country, and the meagre incomes that they have left once they have spent on essential items and paid their bills; and some of whom have even told us that they are very depressed and have lost hope in the direction in which this country has been heading.

    What is more revealing to the PDC and so many of our friends is that there are members and supporters of the DLP and BLP who are so dismayed and disturbed at the way how both of these old traditional parties have generally been managing the affairs of this country, that when they are told by us and some other average citizens of Barbados and some other CARICOM countries, that the DLP and the BLP must be rid of in this country, that they decide NOT to give any or very little/muted responses in support or defence of these two parties.

    So, finally whether or NOT this intellectually bankrupt and drifting DLP Government is about releasing such critical information on the current state of the economy to the general public, the fact is that the broad masses and middle classes know when they are being made to unnecessarily suck salt and smell hell in this country. And they – these broad masses and middle classes – know too that these awful experiences are their own experiences and those of some others, and know too that things are really getting worse and worse in this country.

    So long!!

    PDC

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  • Another excellent well thought out thought provoking piece. Just one thing I would like to point out about the Brazilian ethanol production model. One of the factors which has attributed to its success is a cheap electricity and fuel (along with governmental incentives). Ethanol production is a highly energy intensive process despite its relative simplicity. Brazil produces over 80% of their electricity from hydro power and therefore it is relatively cheap (in essence), they also have fossil fuels at a lower price than we have currently available right now. Even with the benefit of lower fuel prices to make most of their plants economically viable they needed to incorporate bagasse cogeneration plants (plants that use bagasse to produce heating and electricity to drive the plants’ operations). The GOB under the BLP administration had a number of consultants come in to assess the viability of ethanol production on island and the results were all rather negative. Most of the obstacles came from economies of scale issues due to limited land area, high fuel prices, high investment needs for plant construction/modification and the training and re-tooling necessary to revamp the current sugar industry. Waste disposal and/or reuse have also posed issues and the need for large quantities of water throughout the entire process are all factors that influence the economics of the entire system. However, these problems are not insurmountable; it would just require strategic implementation and an appropriately phased approach. Which would need significant support from government as well as major sugar producers.
    I wrote an article some months ago published in the Advocate Business Monday which outlined the pros and the cons of ethanol for Barbados. Mainly geared towards the shooting down of the ethanol dehydration here in Barbados. Which would have been a significantly more cost effective and simpler approach towards introducing ethanol to the Barbadian market. It will be a long time before we can swing the sugar industry towards full ethanol production and the dehydration plant would have been step one of a phased approach to pushing us towards more sustainable energy use.
    In the case of a contract with transport board, most transport board vehicles are diesel powered. E10 and other ethanol blends are gasoline mixtures that are to be used in standard gasoline powered vehicles. However pure ethanol (E100) can be mixed with a combustion enhancing agent that would make it usable with diesel engines with minor modifications. The technology is out there, the brainpower is here, all we need is to come together and form strategies. Start with a small portion of the sugar production and a modified distillery process, a few painted pilot vehicles, and meticulous data collection, release of this data (favourable or not) and a structure for further improvement or redirection. Brazil did not perfect their model overnight (and it still isn’t perfect), we are light years behind, and renewable energy strategies are not something one can copy-cat. Sure we can do it with telecommunication and information technology etc, but renewable energy is so case specific that what works in St. Lucy may need to be adjusted for it to work in St. Michael. One must always be aware of that.

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  • RE Engineer i don’t think money is the problem, if my memory serves me correctly a whole sugar factory get build and ent last two seasons operating.with that type of wastage in the sugar industry at lest one ethanol plant could be built, hit or miss.

    The best way to introduce this to the island is to find out how much ethanol would be needed to run all the government vehicles on E10 and design a plant that meets this need as the minimal output. That way you would have a buyer for your product guaranteeing success .

    Then put all of these UWI graduates to work at getting the whole island online.

    What would be case specific? all is necessary is to get ethanol produced at a selling price less than gas while letting the cane being sold to the ethanol plant(s) at a higher price than cane is sold at now.

    What about letting the Plantation owners make ethanol them self’s and buy it from them.

    I am not familiar with the process but i assumes it is mixing the “cane mash/molasses” with yeast, letting it ferment a little, then boiling that mixture capturing the gas and letting it cool to form ethanol-alcohol, is this not the same way rum is made?

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  • @Ready-Done

    With my experience working with government officials, I can tell you that any projects with any associated risk are rarely undertaken, especially one that would draw significant public attention and that would be revolutionise an entire industry. Plus sugar factories require simpler technologies and would not require an environmental impact assessment as would an ethanol plant along with engineering the new equipment. Gov’t would have to spend some serious money on external consultants (though I would not be surprised if someone on island had the expertise), all of these costs rack up, especially for a project of this nature. However, I do agree with you in the fact that cost should not matter, but the sway of elective politics usually causes a shift of the risk from gov’t. That is why most ‘unique’ or ‘revolutionary’ projects were undertaken as design, build and hand over/service contract. Ionics Freshwater, SBRC and the now totally defunct wind turbine at Lamberts were just a few of these types of projects. Where private entities assumed all risk and then if the stuff worked they handed it over to gov’t or sought a contract with the GOB. Maybe that is the route we have to go yet again, but with the trying economic times and all the headaches with conducting an EIA and planning approval not many persons will be willing to do it or care to since their will be no immediate financial gain. Another thing is that a lot of these things work best on economies of scale, it would be much cheaper per litre of ethanol to build a plant that can provide the largest ethanol yield possible but that is risky. I agree with you in terms of seeing how much E10 would be needed to run gov’t vehicles and work with that but I believe designing such a plant to meet those minimum needs may be cost prohibitive, at least for a pilot project. I believe it can be done by doing a small retrofit of a current distillery and producing enough ethanol for a few vehicles and seeing what are the pros and cons of their operations and the cost factors involved. Yes it works all over the world but I find that persons here only believe if they see it working on Barbadian soil. Ethanol is not a wonder fuel it has its good and its bad and the only way it is going to catch on is if it is cheaper than standard petrol and the USA and Brazil are world leaders because they are part of the few that can actually produce it at a lower cost than gasoline; actually USA only produces it cheaper because of a gov’t subsidy, if not for that subsidy and air pollution regulations ethanol would not be economically viable to its producers their, any many plants have shut down after the significant fall in fuel prices since late 2008.

    “What would be case specific? all is necessary is to get ethanol produced at a selling price less than gas while letting the cane being sold to the ethanol plant(s) at a higher price than cane is sold at now.”…………

    You hit the nail on the head, the issue with any renewable source of energy is making it cost effective. It may sound like a simple task but it isn’t, Barbados is a high cost nation; fuel, electricity, labour, and now water, have to all be factored in, and making ethanol production cheaper than gas is no simple task taking into consideration all these factors. Let’s face it, no matter how good something is for us, the vast majority will go for what is cheaper, so no fuel retailer will go for E10 if it is too expensive and he cannot make a profit from it. As a plantation owner what would be my incentive for investing in an ethanol production plant? Without some form of involvement of government of some form of aid from IDB or some such agency I will continue to work with what I know.

    I agree with you on involvement of UWI graduates, it saddens me how we under use Barbadian brainpower, always seeking someone from outside to tell us how to do things, and most of the time they are persons who have no concept of Barbados as a nation and who are not any more intelligent than the average Barbadian. And I am sure they could employ graduates at half the cost of a consultant (plus saving on foreign exchange and reducing brain-drain), have them do the requisite research and trial and error testing and they can come up with a viable way to do things working with the expertise of some more experienced persons in the industry. Sadly, such synergies usually do not get off the ground for various reasons.

    Ethanol production is similar to rum making but with one major difference and that is purity. Yeast usually die at a certain alcohol level, so to get pure alcohol it must be driven off as you say by boiling in a distillation column. This extra energy to to get about 95% pure ethanol for distillation is significant. Additionally, the ethanol must go through a drying process, which could be done by reverse osmosis membranes, molecular sieves etc, to get 99.9% pure (anhydrous) ethanol which is ready to be mixed with gasoline. That process is also quite energy intensive. And the entire process needs quite a bit of water. Safety is also a major issue and safety strategies and safety equipment will have to be installed along with special storage vessels. These costs can be tremendous. Not insurmountable in any fashion but the risk factor for gov’t isn’t going to fly with them.

    Small-scale well documented and publicized pilots is the only way we can start out, all it needs would be a few thousand dollars and the passion that you and so many others possess. The amount of things I would do for free just to see them work may shock people, but I don’t think I am the only one out there that feels the same way. The latest fad on the island is to sit in one’s office and be an overpaid consultant, constantly reinventing the wheel. A highly counterproductive practice in my opinion.

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  • @RE et al

    Read with much interest your insight and felt compelled to add our two cents.

    The strategy/policy of governments of Barbados MUST be to explore alternative energy sources. From this perspective shouldn’t we reasonably assume that any government would get the buy in from the PEOPLE?

    The issue of benefitting from economies of scale is valid given our small size. Is it possible that Barbados could form alliances with neighbouring countries to work around this challenge?

    Last but not least the opportunity cost when the foreign exchange savings is factored by reduced oil imports to the Ethanol Cost Model would be significant.

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  • RE Engineer,

    Thanks for your extremely informative comments.

    A question.. since Brazil, because of economies of scale can and are producing ethanol at a lower cost than we can hope to do it in Barbados, would importing it from Brazil to mix with petrol to create E10 be a viable proposal? How high would world oil prices have to go to make it cost effective?

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  • @David

    “The strategy/policy of governments of Barbados MUST be to explore alternative energy sources. From this perspective shouldn’t we reasonably assume that any government would get the buy in from the PEOPLE?”……

    I agree with you there but as I said, gov’t is always reluctant to undertake technical projects with significant risk involved. A trial or pilot projects is usually done, however results are usually either sketchy in their documentation and/or results not publicised. Which in itself makes it all a waste of time and money. The hoarding of knowledge it what has kept us stagnant for all these years in the realm of alternatives. Governments usually respond on the initiatives of people, and sadly though the interest is there, the numbers are still too small to cause the necessary revolution.

    “The issue of benefitting from economies of scale is valid given our small size. Is it possible that Barbados could form alliances with neighbouring countries to work around this challenge?”………

    I agree with you 3000%. I know some persons were looking into the cost of developing land in Guyana to grow sugarcane for process and export to Barbados. But clearly that would have its political issues. In my opinion any alliances with regional governments would see long games of political chess before anything could be sorted out.

    “……….. foreign exchange savings is factored by reduced oil imports to the Ethanol Cost Model would be significant.”………

    Yet again I am in full agreement. I am unsure if it has been done as yet on a wide level but I have always wanted to do some studies in the feasibility of various renewable energy and energy efficiency models denoting ALL the benefits; long term cost reduction, reduced price volatility, reduced foreign exchange expenditure, job creation, and possible regional service provision, just to name a few. However, such studies would need the amalgamation of various specialties, I know basic economics as they would pertain to engineering but to really paint the entire economic picture input from a seasoned economist would be needed, persons with ample technical experience in various sectors, and one could even go as far as to include sociologists etc to determine the impact or plausibility of the social changes necessary for the success of various technologies of a renewable nature. Sadly such a synergy may be a mere dream.

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  • Appears from your last comment there is a role for the UWI and the Barbados Chamber of Commerce. One advantage to the government subsidising such a project is the forward planning based on what you referred to as price volatility but importantly the reorderring of our economy which would remove us from the clutches of the oil speculators and OPEC.

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  • RE Engineer we like we got to get together on a little project our self?

    I got a test engine currently running on HHO gas (COOL STUFF!!!!!!!) need something new to play with though.
    I was thinking, it would be possible to build a “backyard” ethanol plant using 50gall metal drums, i could wield. what you think? could it work?

    Wasn’t “Bizzy” Willams to build a commercial size plant?

    I was just saying, the people that sell cane might do better selling the ethanol. Plantations generally are self sufficient and if the owner can set aside a couple acres of land to produce all the fuel needed to run the daily operations on the farm, they would.

    Maybe we should make all gas in the island E10 regardless of its source, that would give some sort of start to the industry.

    Another point(s) i want to mention is that ethanol comes from other plant sources such as corn etc so we have other crops for consideration, they are all so the by-products like animal feed and so fourth that can be sold to.

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  • @Inkwell

    The import from Brazil option was explored in terms of the proposed ethanol dehydration plant. The strategy would have been to import hydrous (or wet) ethanol from Brazil and dry it here in a specially built plant, some of this would be used for mixing with gasoline here on island and possibly even for diesel vehicles (saving on foreign exchange), the rest would be exported to the USA under the Caribbean Basin Initiative, bringing in foreign exchange. This would also give rise to persons in the sugar industry being about to produce small amounts of ethanol and getting it into the local pool without incurring very high processing costs. Moving us towards a more self sufficient status.

    As for cost, gasoline is sold now at approximately BB$2.40 per litre, Brazil produces ethanol at about BB$0.44 per litre. Taking into account import costs, profit margins and the reduced calorific content of ethanol (it takes more ethanol to drive a car from point A to point B than it does for gasoline), ethanol should still be marginally cheaper than gasoline even at today’s relatively low prices.

    Did you know that E10 is mandated in Jamaica? Both Jamaica and Trinidad have ethanol dehydration plants and export quite a bit of ethanol to the USA and are currently looking at the European markets via the EPA. However, the project here was shot down.

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  • Barbados was a driveing force for the world at one point, we should pay homeage to our ansestiors, one group saw the money to be made in cane and the other group had to skils to make it work.

    People tend to think it takes an expert to make things work, but experience is the best teacher, as soon as ethanol production gets “main stream” they will be drastic improvements made by people involved in the actual manufacturing process.

    Barbados invented RUM, sugar cane processing belong to we, we should be pushing this more………….

    The fastest way i could see to get this working is to put a sizable amount of cash up for grabs to the first person to come up with a reliable plan

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  • @Ready Done

    The Enterprise Growth Fund has an innovation contest where the winner gets $75,000 and access to $325,000 dollars in venture capital. All it requires is a 2-4 pager to map out the idea. Go to their website if you are interested. You suggestion of getting a plantation to buy in to the opportunity to create a self sufficient system is valid and can be a blue print for roll out. It would gel with your interest in agriculture.

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  • @Ready Done

    Any type of sustainability project I am all for. I am no expert on ethanol production but as you rightly said I am sure we could learn a lot from research and some practical trial and error.

    @David

    Thanks for the information on the Enterprise Growth Fund. I have been doing a lot of work in terms of solar air conditioning, refrigeration and heating. I also know some other persons with some good sustainable ideas.

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  • well now i know about The Enterprise Growth Fund, i going to try a thing.
    http://www.egfl.bb/(here is the link)

    The government should put up money to solve specific problems, enough that would encourage the thinkers to act.

    Like

  • Actually, Government has been putting up money for just this type of Ethanol Project for several years now.

    The BAMC’s Cane Industry Restructuring Project has been investigating such options, but the question of whether to import or produce the ethanol locally has been an area of indecision.

    I believe they are close to the correct solution now, and it will be a viable mix of importation, dehydration, exportation, local consumption and local production.

    And the solution MUST be flexible enough to allow a variety of input and output scenarios so that we do not put all our eggs in one basket (as we largely did with the existing sugar industry) . We must be able to adapt relatively quickly in response to local and external factors (oil prices, global ethanol supply and cost, demand for specialty sugars, etc).

    Barbados will get there – eventually. But it will take some big kahunas.

    Like

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