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PNOC unit eyes 1,000-ha sweet sorghum plantation

By Marianne V. Go (The Philippine Star) Updated September 27, 2011 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine National Oil Co.-Alternative Fuels Corp. (PNOC-AFC) is in talks to establish a 1,000-hectare sweet sorghum plantation in Negros Occidental.

The project will require an investment of P45 million to P75 million at a production cost of P30,000 to P50,000 per hectare.

The harvest will be used to produce sweet sorghum syrup for ethanol production at the San Carlos Bioenergy Inc. (SCBI) plant in San Carlos City in Negros Occidental.

Estimated to yield 2,500 liters per hectare, 1,000 hectares can produce as much as 2.5 million liters of ethanol per year.

Sweet sorghum is very competitive as bioethanol feedstock as studied by UPLB and Mariano Marcos State University ((MMSU) team, according to Prof. Rex B. Demafelis, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) Alternative Energy Research, Development, and Extension (RDE) convenor and chairman of UPLB Energy Systems Committee.

The commercial production is expected to come after several years of agronomic research and inter-agency coordination funded by the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR).

Demafelis is urging PNOC-AFC to conduct first a feasibility study (FS) to validate previous studies and the site specificity analysis before any engagement is made.

All this requires PNOC-AFC board approval and that of the PNOC mother board. Securing the approval, Demafelis estimate, would take up to just before the end of next year, and only after the approvals are secured could a feasibility study be done.

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