Sapporo licenses Thai firm to produce ethanol from cassava

BANGKOK, NNA - Japanese brewer Sapporo Holdings Ltd. has licensed Thai fuel retailer PTG Energy Public Co. to manufacture cassava-based bioethanol.

The deal was signed Monday between Sapporo and Innotech Green Energy Co., PTG's subsidiary and joint venture with Thai tapioca starch maker Eiamburapa Co.

Innotech will use Sapporo's technology in producing ethanol from cassava pulp at a new plant scheduled to start operating in 2020.

PTG President and Chief Executive Officer Pitak Ratchakitprakarn said the project will synergize strengths among the partners from upstream to downstream, with Eiamburapa providing cassava pulp, Sapporo offering technology for fermenting pulp to produce bioethanol for making gasohol, and PTG distributing the output.

Sapporo's fermentation technology will turn cassava pulp, which is discarded at present, into a valuable raw material, enabling ethanol production at a lower cost than from molasses, Pitak added.

The new ethanol plant, budgeted at 1,500 million baht ($42 million) and capable of producing 200,000 liters per day, will be built in Sa Kaeo province in eastern Thailand.

PTG plans to double the capacity to 400,000 liters in 2021-2022 by setting up a second plant at the same location.

PTG currently requires up to 470,000 liters of ethanol per day and the need is expected to grow 35 percent to 1.15 million liters in 2020, according to Pitak.

Thailand aims to increase ethanol consumption to 11.3 million liters per day in 2036 from the current level of 3.5-3.6 million liters, according to the country's alternative energy development plan. (NNA/Kyodo)