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B5 to spark coco sector revival

The combined capacity at present is around 850 million liters, more than enough to treat 17 billion liters of automotive diesel per year

Maria Romero

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Coconut supply will be sufficient to support the government’s plan to increase the coco-biodiesel blend in automotive fuel to five percent, or B5, from the current two percent combination (B2) in the pump.

According to The Philippine Biodiesel Association (TPBA), the country has “more than enough” supply of coconut to support the shift to B5.

“There are overcapacity among coco methyl ester (CME) producers in serving the current B2 blend, the capacities were built in anticipation of the shift to B5 as guided by the Departmentod Energy’s (DoE) Philippine Energy plan,” the group said.

TPBA spokesperson Jun Lao explained that “the combined capacity at present is around 850 million liters, more than enough to treat 17 billion liters of automotive diesel per year.”
“There is a 5 centavos per liter lien contributed by every CME producer to the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DoLE) social amelioration and welfare program (SAWP) which funds the livelihood and training programs for coconut farmers and biodiesel workers,” he added.

Farmer income to rise
Meanwhile, Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Administrator and former AFP chief Benjamin Madrigal said the increase in the domestic demand for coconut oil through the full implementation of B5 will raise the copra farm gate price.

An estimated 695 million liters of CME would be needed for the increase to B5 blend.

PCA figures likewise showed that there are 1.864 million kilos of coconut oil in the country — that’s more than enough to support the mandate.

Citing the Biofuels Roadmap 2018-2040, Energy Assistant Secretary Leonido Pulido III noted that the B5 target was not met due to restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Department of Energy (DoE) and the PCA, which are part of the influential National Biodiesel Board (NBB), the super body tasked to study and implement the biodiesel law, are both looking at 2021 to launch the B5 use.

Indonesia, Malaysia catch up
CME is a biofuel made from coconut oil that is converted to a diesel-substitute while exhibiting combustion-improving properties to lower harmful emissions and improve mileage.

Shortly after Republic Act 9367 or the Biofuels act of 2006 was signed into law, the blending of one percent (CME) in local diesel started. It was then increased to 2 percent in 2007.

There is a 5 centavos per liter lien from every CME producer to the social amelioration and welfare program which funds the livelihood and training programs for coconut farmers and biodiesel workers.

The Philippines was the first in Southeast Asia to pioneer the blending of biodiesel. When neighbors Indonesia and Malaysia followed, they started with the B5 blend.

Both countries are now at the B3 level, while the Philippines has remained at B2 since 2007.

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