Japanese firm, Itochu Corp. is set to invest $120 million in an ethanol plant, the biggest and only integrated biofuel plant in San Mariano, Isabela that will give more than 15,000 jobs.
The new ethanol plant 15,000 farmers and 500 plant workers. The farmers will plant sugarcanes over 11,000 hectares land in San Mariano.
The project would be undertaken by Green Future Innovations Inc. (GFII), a joint venture of Itochu, another Japanese firm JGC Corp., the Philippine Bioethanol and Energy Investments Corp., and Taiwanese holding firm GCO.
The GFII chief executive officer Alexander Uy said they are waiting for its proclamation as an economic zone before they start the contruction.
The GFII expects to avail of tax and other incentives as a pioneering biofuel producer from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority’s (PEZA).
The San Mariano ethanol plant will become the country’s biggest ethanol plant with a capacity of 54 million liters per year. Other ethanol producers now are the San Carlos Bioenergy Inc. which has a 37 million-liter annual capacity, and Roxol Bioenergy Inc., 30 million-liter capacity.
On top of the ethanol production, GFII will produce 19 megawatt (MW) of electricity from bagasse, a sugarcane residual, of which 13 MW will be sold to the national grid.
Uy said the GFII plant in San Mariano will be a greenfield plant in that it will have a sugarcane farm whose production will largely be used for ethanol. It will be the only fully integrated (production-processing) ethanol plant.
“We will be planting, growing sugarcane. We’ll be creating value with new farms developed out of idle lands. That’s from zero to something,” he said.
The company’s 54 million-liter annual displacement of petroleum fuel will translate to foreign exchange savings of $27.5 million. Its sugarcane production of 700,000 metric tons has an estimated value of P1.6 billion.
GFII will be using the expertise on contract growing with farmers of Filipino affiliate firm controlled by the Uys, the Universal Leaf Phils. Inc. (ULPI).
“We have been dealing with small farmers,” said Uy.
“Right now, we import 100 percent of our fuel needs, and foreign exchange goes to the rich Middle Eastern nations. Through partnerships like this, we procure ethanol domestically and provide added value for the low-income Filipino farmers,” Uy said.
Japanese firms Itochu and JGC Corp. have been attracted to invest in the country’s biofuel industry due to the incentives given by the Biofuels Act.
“Among our other Asian prospects, the Philippines is the most advanced in its implementation of a biofuels law. We are glad to be attuned to the market demand,
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