Development bank loans half a billion for ethanol power plants

The Inter-American Development Bank is granting a loan of 269 million dollars (almost half a billion guilders) for the construction of three new ethanol power plants south of Brazil. It’s the biggest investment a development bank has ever given for bio-fuels. The loan should help the grant of another 389 million dollars (700 million guilders) from BNP Paribas to make the total investment feasible. The board of the bank granted the financing yesterday. Two of the three power plants are moreover complete. The first ethanol production is expected in September.

The three power plants will be developed by Companhia Nacional De Açúcar e Ãlcool (CNAA) a joint venture formed by the Brazilian sugar producer Santelisa vale, a few foreign private investors, including Global Foods, an Antillian holding of which Gregory Elias is managing director. Elias, businessman on Curaçao, is also the advisor of the project. He talks of ‘an important break-through’. Global Foods was founded by the Aruban Rene Kan and the Dutchman Justus Martens twelve years ago. The Brazilian partner in Global Foods Allan Kahane (Emesa-group) is the biggest driving force behind this project.
The private sector has already invested more than 300 million dollars in the ethanol factories of CNAA. The capital is derived from Carlyle-Riverstone, Goldman Sachs, DiMaio Capital, Discovery Capital and Global Foods. Goldmann Sachs (NY) is the drawer in the US, who is financing the other part via a syndicate. Top-executive there is Milton Berlinski, an Aruban who’s been living in the US for years already.

“In a time of increasing food-and energy prices it is crucial to produce new fuel which doesn’t compete with food production”, says IDB top-executive Luis Alberto Moreno. “After researching the social consequences of these projects and its effect on the environment and the economy for more than a year, we can conclude that the power plants will produce clean and sustainable energy and will create good quality jobs. And that without any influence from food prices.”

Interactive score-card
The development bank is busy making a ‘Biofuels Sustainability Scorecard’. All areas will thereby be looked at. It concerns the use of land and water, climate and bio-diversity in a potential project in the area of bio-fuel. This interactive score-card will be shown on IDB’s website ( starting next month.

“Brazil is blessed with the best conditions for effectively producing ethanol”, continues Moreno. “Various other countries in Latin-America have the same possibilities. We also have the intention to help them develop bio-fuel industries according to the highest standard on a social and environmental friendly level.”

The three new power plants will be located in Ituiutaba and Campina Verde in the Minas Gerais district and Itumbiara in Goiás, far from the Amazone and other protected areas. Instead of buying land the company CNAA will use the land of small scale owners with whom an agreement can be reached regarding the cultivation of sugar cane. This should produce more than the extensive cattle-breeding, which the area is known for.

4500 Permanent jobs
The totalproject brings about 4500 permanent jobs. The power plants produce up to 420 million liters of ethanol per year. This fuel is meant for the national market. The factories each generate their own electricity (56 Megawatt) by burning residue of plants. The modern technology for that is so efficient that an additional 400.000 houses can be supplied with electricity. The sewage from the ethanol power plants can be recycled into artificial manure for the sugar cane fields.

(Source: National Newspaper Amigoe)

July 24, 2008

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