Maple, a Texas-based group of companies involved in the financing, design, engineering and construction of energy-related infrastructure projects worldwide, plans to begin ethanol production from its project in coastal Peru in the second quarter of 2009.
The project—Maple’s first ethanol initiative—will initially produce 30-40 million gallons of sugarcane ethanol per year. The company’s goal is to reach production of 100 million gallons within 3-5 years in Peru, and is searching for other development opportunities.
In addition to the ethanol plant, the project entails building related port and shipping facilities as well as cane planting and harvesting. A 7MW power plant to be constructed as part of the ethanol plant will utilize the bagasse, a by-product of the cane milling process, as fuel for its boiler.
The company will begin testing sugarcane in a pilot area in March with full-scale planting to begin in November. The company will invest a minimum US$32 million in the project, although Maple anticipates an investment of some US$100 million.
The valleys in Peru’s northern coast are traditional cane growing areas where Maple is looking to secure approximately 10,000 ha. through buying, leasing land or buying cane from independent growers.
This area is the best location in Peru for growing sugar cane. Ideal temperature conditions, combined with extremely low rainfall and availability of water for irrigation from the nearby Andes, allow for year-round harvesting. This situation, unique in the world, explains why Peru, in spite of its many agricultural problems, still produces one of the highest yields of cane per hectare in the world, according to Maple.
Maple primarily plans to export ethanol from Paita port to international markets. The company also has said the ethanol could reach the domestic market, depending on economic conditions. Maple is also considering biofuels projects in other Latin American countries, such as Argentina, Chile and Brazil.
Maple has been operating in the Peru since 1994, specifically with oil fields in the Ucayali Basin. The company has developed projects totaling more than US$300 million in Peru. Maple is also the developer of the Aguaytia integrated natural gas and electric power project.