Philippines seen among top biofuel consuming countries in Asia (Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines needs to find an alternative source of feedstock for bioethanol and biodiesel as it is expected to be one of the top biofuel consuming countries in Asia by 2020, a study by the Economic Research Institute for Asean and East Asia (ERIA) showed.

Liquid fuels could be a main source of energy to satisfy Asia’s growing energy demand and to reduce the region’s dependence on fossil fuels, it said.

By 2035, Asia’s demand for biofuel will reach over 70 million tons of oil equivalent (TOE) by 2035 – nearly 36 million TOE of bioethanol and 37 million TOE of biodiesel, the study showed.

In the Philippines, annual demand for that year is projected to reach 935 thousand TOE and 1.282 million TOE for biodiesel.

In terms of bioethanol demand, the country will be among the top five consumers of biofuel starting 2020, after Indonesia, China, India and Thailand.

This is because the Department of Energy (DOE) will increase the mandated bioethanol blend rate to 20 percent starting 2020 from the mandated 10 percent this year, as required by the Biofuels Act of 2006.

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Meanwhile, the biodiesel blend rate will be increased to 10 percent by 2020 and 20 percent by 2030 from the current mandate of five percent.

With the projected increased biofuel blending rate, ERIA said the Philippines should find alternative crops to meet the growing demand.

Currently, sugarcane or molasses has the potential to be a major feedstock for bioethanol and coconut for biodiesel.

“However, domestic feedstock supply is unlikely to be enough to cover the demand driven by the mandatory blending target,” the study read.

The Philippines is a net importer of sugar while coconut production is slow compared with its consumption, which has been further aggravated by typhoons that have hit the country in the past couple of years.

The study said “whether cassava plantation using marginal land is another feedstock option or not is now under discussion” for bioethanol.

Meanwhile, alternative crops, such as oil palm in Mindanao and in other islands in southern Philippines should be considered for biodiesel, ERIA said.