BRE to invest $95m in large-scale bioethanol plant in Jamaica

Florida-based biofuel developer Benchmark Renewable Energy (BRE) is planning to develop a large-scale bioethanol operation in Jamaica.

According to BRE, once completed the plant will have a production capacity of 10 million gpy of ethanol, with an additional 3MW of electricity produced for the local grid.

The required investment for the plant is expected to be approximately $95 million (€86.7m), with the prospect of ramping up production to 20 million gpy in the first few years of operation.

In addition to ethanol and electricity, BRE aims to produce 500,000 gpy of drop-in aviation jet fuel and 60,000 gpd of desalinated water.

Juan Briceno, CFO at BRE, said Jamaica was chosen as the plant’s location due to its potential for large-scale sugarcane production.

“We were looking for a place with sugarcane growing tradition and good climate to achieve maximum yields of our proposed feed stock crop sweet sorghum,” Briceno told South Florida Caribbean News.

“In addition, we envision that over time, Jamaica will become a net exporter of renewable biofuel as the country is also strategically located to export biofuels into the US market.”

According to Diane Edwards, president of the Jamaican trade and investment organisation JAMPRO, renewable energy can be a “game changer” for Jamaican economy and development, which is why projects like BRE’s are needed.

“Our current energy situation, while improving, inhibits our long-term competitiveness, so we must move towards using new technology and alternative sources that will bring the cost of energy to a manageable level,” Edwards said.

“The effect will be a significant boost for other sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, extractive and service industries, so we’re really looking forward to bringing this project to completion.”

The BRE facility has the backing of several Jamaican and US government agencies, including the Jamaican Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce and Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica.

Final location for the plant within Jamaica is expected to be confirmed this year and BRE hopes to begin production in Q4 2017.

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