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Bioenergy > Regions > Latin America and the Caribbean > Colombia

Information about biofuels and bioenergy in Colombia.






  • Colombia Pursues Sweet Dream of Becoming a Sugar-Cane Ethanol Powerhouse, 9 May 2011 by The New York Times: "Though 85 percent of Colombia's cane crop is harvested in a old-fashioned way, industry leaders say they have no intention of mechanizing the harvest, for fear of mass unemployment in a rural area where people suffered during Colombia's five-decade-long civil war."
    • "Instead, sugar cane growers say they are modernizing in a different way, becoming generators of renewable energy."
    • "Envious of Brazil's accomplishments with sugar-cane ethanol, Colombia's then-president, Alvaro Uribe, championed a 2007 law that ordered all gasoline retailers in his nation to sell a mixture of 90 percent hydrocarbon fuels and 10 percent ethanol."
    • "Colombian government officials and industry leaders are eager to rapidly expand their biofuels effort, seeing it as an effective means of improving security and growing prosperity in struggling rural areas."
    • "Colombian officials see the potential for a lucrative export market in the United States. Unlike Brazil, whose ethanol faces a heavy U.S. tariff, Colombia has a pending free trade agreement with the United States that exempts Colombian ethanol from tariffs."
    • "Expanding from an 8 percent blend today to the industry goal of 30 percent will require almost tripling the area under cultivation. But Colombian biofuels enthusiasts insist this immense feat can be achieved without destroying sensitive natural resources or competing with food crops."[1]
  • Biofuels Push Becomes Weapon in Colombia's War on Narco-Traffickers, 2 May 2011 by The New York Times: "Colombian government support for biodiesel has spurred a robust demand for palm oil that has put 50 percent more income into the pocket of farmer Misael Monsalve Moreno."
    • "It is hard to believe, he said, that just five years ago he and many of his neighbors were growing coca -- the main ingredient for cocaine -- for Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC), a narco-trafficking rebel group that then controlled this part of the Catatumbo region."
    • "Now palm plantations are replacing coca fields in the Catatumbo region. Improved security started the move away from coca, but it was the 2007 law requiring diesel retailers to mix in 10 percent biodiesel that provided the big push, biofuel industry insiders say."
    • "Jens Mesa Dishington, president of the National Federation of Palm Oil Growers, or Fedepalma, estimates that during the past few years about 173,000 acres of coca fields have either been directly converted to palm crop or stripped of their workforce by one of Colombia's fastest growing agriculture sectors."
    • "The government of former President Alvaro Uribe pushed through a 2007 law mandating a 10 percent biofuel blend for domestically distributed diesel."
    • "'This is a good way to improve the area, to improve the security conditions, to remove the cocaine crops from the area,' Brig. Gen. Fernando Pineda Solarte said. 'We're trying to prove to the population that it's possible, that we have other choices different from cocaine. That's the success of this area and that's why this project is so important.'"[2]
  • Biodiesel – a positive answer to climate change?, 4 December 2009 by Climate Change Media Partnership: "The expansion of palm plantations in Colombia is causing concern among environmentalists worldwide because they fear that, just as in Indonesia and Malaysia, these plantations may be taking land where today there are natural forests."
    • "Colombia is expected to become the third largest palm oil producer in the world."
    • "Several organizations, including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), are promoting a plan called the Forest Conversion Programme, which aims to prevent the expansion of palm plantations in forests of high conservation value."..."[C]ompanies certified under the Forest Conversion Programme must demonstrate compliance with a standard that takes into account, primarily, respect for nature, appropriate relationships with local communities, and the promotion of responsible consumption."[3]
  • Decree that increases ethanol use causes controversy (Spanish original), 25 April 2009 by El País (Cali). The mandatory introduction of E85 flex-fuel vehicles has caused controversy among carmakers, car dealers, and gasoline station owners. On March 2009 the Colombian government enacted a mandate to introduce E85 flexible-fuel cars. The executive decree applies to all gasoline-powered vehicles with engines smaller than 2.0 liters manufactured, imported, and commercialized in the country beginning in 2012, mandating that 60% of such vehicles must have flex-fuel engines capable of running with gasoline or E85, or any blend of both. By 2014 the mandatory quota is 80% and it will reach 100 percent by 2016. All vehicles with engines bigger than 2.0 liters must be E85 capable starting in 2013. The decree also mandates that by 2011 all gasoline stations must provide infrastructure to guarantee availability of E85 throughout the country.[4]
  • Afro-Colombians fight biodiesel producers, 5 January 2009 by the BBC. "For Afro-Colombians evicted from their land in north-western Colombia and along the Pacific coast, the loss of familiar surroundings of lush jungle and rugged mountains can be devastating." [5]
  • Biofuel producers warn EU over "unjustifiably complex" sustainability rules, 7 November 2008 by BusinessGreen: "Eight developing countries have written to the EU warning they will complain to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) if it passes proposed legislation designed to improve the environmental sustainability of biofuels by restricting the types of fuels the bloc imports."
    • "The EU is considering legislation that is intended to ban the purchase of biofuels from energy crop plantations that are believed to harm the environment and lead to food shortages by displacing land used for food crops and contributing to rainforest deforestation."
    • "[E]ight countries – Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Malawi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Indonesia and Malaysia – have written to the EU to protest against the proposals" in a letter that "claims that the new rules would 'impose unjustifiably complex requirements on producers' and argues that environmental criteria 'relating to land-use change will impinge disproportionately on developing countries'."[6]
  • Colombia: Harvesting Sunshine for Biofuels 12 October 2006, by InterPress Service (IPS): In response to declining oil reserves, "President Álvaro Uribe announced on Aug. 7, at the start of his second term, that production of biofuels would be one of his administration’s priorities."
  • Sugar high 30 April 2006, in The Seattle Times: "In Colombia, ethanol's future is now. Since November, motorists in three large cities — Cali, Bogotá and Popayán — have been required by law to fill their tanks with at least 10 percent ethanol." ... "The biofuel law is spawning investment in ethanol infrastructure in the Cauca Valley, Colombia's sugar-growing capital."


  • "A 2001 Colombian law stipulates that the country's gasoline must have 10 percent ethanol in 2009, with gradual increases to 25 percent in 15 to 20 years. A similar bill is being drafted for biofuel, based on the African palm, from which 600,000 tonnes of oil are already being produced yearly as food."(Source: Biofuel Boom Sparks Environmental Fears, 24 September 2006, by InterPress Service)
    • The article quoted David Cala, "director of CORPODIB, a consortium of businesses, university and technology centres involved in industry development of biotechnology, as saying that "Colombia could be third in production of biofuels, surpassed only by the United States and Brazil, if production of palm oil for biodiesel comes out favourably."[7] "Exports could reach 10 million litres daily of alcohol from sugarcane and beets, and three million tonnes a year of biodiesel -- two to three times greater than domestic consumption -- in 15 to 20 years, estimates Cala."[8]


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