UPLB IBRSC host forum to prepare for E20 in 2020

UPLB IBRSC host forum to prepare for E20 in 2020 © OVCRE/Lawrence N. Garcia

MANILA, Philippines — The University of the Philippines Los Baños Interdisciplinary Biofuels Research Studies Center (UPLB IBRSC), together with the US Grains Council, hosted the Bioethanol Forum for the Roadmap of E20 Implementation in the Philippines at Makati Shangri-La, Manila on 29 June 2018.

The first part of the forum was composed of presentations from various stakeholders, followed by a roundtable discussion wherein representatives from different stakeholders discussed the steps, issues, and obstacles in the implementation of E20 in 2020. One objective of the forum was also to craft the Philippine General Roadmap for E20. Dr. Rex B. Demafelis, UPLB Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension and Chair of the UPLB IBRSC gave the welcome remarks on behalf of Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez Jr. He expressed gratitude for all the support from US Grains, the national agencies, and private partners who were involved in the research agenda and field trials.

Dr. Demafelis was also the first presenter as he gave the rundown on the project “Ethanol in the Philippines: Injecting Octane into the Bioeconomy.” This project also gave way to a policy paper launched last January 2018. The study tackled three policy options and recommended E20-E as the best option. E20-E makes use of imported ethanol to complement the local projected supply by 2020 at 20% bioethanol blending. This option will also pave the way for greenhouse gas avoidance, forex savings, and rural employment among others.

Brian Healy from the US Grains Council in Washington DC talked about the compatibility of mid-level and high-level ethanol blends with current non-flex fuel vehicles, a research conducted in Brazil. He acknowledged that the effect of moving to different levels of blends on engine technology is one of the major concerns of people. Currently, Brazil is in the process of moving towards an even higher blend of ethanol and this research was conducted to ensure that they have the compatible vehicles available. From the Department of Energy, Engr. Ruby De Guzman talked about the current status of the bioethanol industry, as well as the challenges in implementing E20. Challenges include the higher price of locally produced bioethanol compared to imported ethanol, infrastructure requirements, and based on forecasted gasoline demand, the completion of bioethanol production facilities by 2019 will not be enough to meet the mandated volume requirement for E10. She also briefly discussed research, development, and deployment initiatives in identifying viable bioethanol feedstock.

Perspectives from the local oil industry were shared by Mr. Leo P. Bellas, the President of Jetti Petroleum. “It may not be good news for some players, but we at Jetti see it as a welcome development,” Mr. Bellas said. He also elaborated on how the acceptability by end users may be a major concern in the Philippines. Meanwhile, Ms. Queenie N. Rojo, Executive Director of the Ethanol Producers Association of the Philippines (EPAP) gave the domestic bioethanol producers’ perspective. She shared examples of how the bioethanol program was able to increase rural employment and incomes. She reiterated that they are excited to be involved in the succeeding discussions on feedstock, pricing, and implementation.

Dr. Jovita L. Movillon, Professor Emeritus of UPLB, together with Dr. Demafelis, facilitated the roundtable discussion and crafting of the roadmap wherein the various stakeholders present actively participated as they touched on issues discussed in the presentations as well as some other pressing challenges.

Mr. Manuel Sanchez, Regional Director of the US Grains Council in Kuala Lumpur, Malysia, gave the closing remarks. Mr. Sanchez talked about how the incomes of small and medium farmers have doubled since the implementation of certain policies. To close his message, he expressed his sincere gratitude to everyone and correlated the event to his admiration for marathoners and committed athletes. “These are people that take time out of their lives to commit to something, specifically running. And whether you go out to run a marathon or walk here in Makati, it starts with a step.” He reiterated how E20 in 2020 can be a long journey, but starting somewhere is essential. He ended with the words, “It’s not going to be an easy journey, but it takes one step, and that’s what we’ve done today.”