April 19, 2006


Central America eyes sweet alternative to oil (Mica Rosenberg, 4/20/06, Reuters)

At the Palo Gordo refinery two hours' drive south of Guatemala City, a Brazilian-designed ethanol processing plant hums next to decades-old machinery turning freshly cut cane into sugar.

The plant is part of a new push across Central America to reduce the region's reliance on expensive imported oil by following the example of Brazil, Latin America's alternative energy powerhouse.

Sugar-producing countries are looking to ethanol to breathe new life into the decades-old sugar industry. The fuel, also known as ethyl alcohol, is made from a sugar by-product and then mixed with gasoline to reduce pollution and lower prices.

"Sugar cane has changed its name," said Erick Perez, who manages alcohol processing at the Palo Gordo plant.

"Now we call it 'energy cane,'" he said, showing off the three-storey ovens that burn cane fibre to generate all the electricity used by the refinery.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 19, 2006 10:39 PM

Getting warm climate areas less dependent on oil/gas should be easier than cold climates (like New England) that also need oil for heating.

On a similar note shifting vehicles with short/defined ranges (buses, lawnmowers) from gas to other will free up gas for vehicles that have to go greater distances.

Posted by: AWW at April 19, 2006 11:32 PM


Maybe not; oil-burning boilers/furnaces are probably easier to convert than automobiles. The boiler at my previous MA residence was over sixty years old, had started life burning coal, then converted to oil in the 50s, then to natural gas in the 80s.

Posted by: Mike Earl at April 20, 2006 10:42 AM