PANAMA CITY, PANAMA — A memorandum of understanding (MOU) that recognizes the economic and environmental importance of biofuels and ethanol was signed by the US Grains Council (USGC) and Industrial Association of Sugar Cane of Panama (AZUCALPA) during a regional seminar hosted by USGC March 21-22 in Panama City, Panama.

The seminar — Cultivando Energía — brought together critical stakeholders and high-level government officials from Central American countries and the Dominican Republic to learn about and discuss the technical aspects, benefits and challenges of ethanol and gasoline blending in the region. 

The MOU recognizes the importance of assessing the role and benefits of biofuels and ethanol in the promotion of economic growth, diversification of the energy matrix and decarbonization of transportation in the global energy transition to address global greenhouse gas emissions.

“This MOU bolsters economic and energy security through both domestic production and strengthening trade ties between our two nations,” said Alexis Taylor, US undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, who witnessed the signing. “Ethanol blending helps countries meet their climate change goals by boosting the use of renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. I hope these benefits encourage other nations throughout the region to explore ethanol blending policies of their own.”

Global ethanol consumption has grown from 16 billion gallons in 2010 to more than 27 billion in 2022. Central America, with an area of 523,000 square kilometers and a population of about 51 million, consumes on average 244 gallons of oil and oil products per person per year. Fuel consumption for transportation has increased 9.1% over the last few years, driven by an increase in population, a growing middle class and an increased vehicle ownership.

The seminar also included extensive discussions around ethanol’s role in the global energy transition; dispelling ethanol myths; ethanol’s contribution to greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction; the ethanol production chain; ethanol pathways in Latin America; and regional challenges to ethanol policy. Participants in the seminar included ministers and vice ministers from the mines and energy, environment and agriculture sectors, along with representatives from national refineries, agro-industrial industries, oil and gas, finance, logistics and transportation. 

“Cultivando Energia is an incredibly impressive event that brings together like-minded individuals from across the region who can share their concerns and explore areas of collaboration in developing coherent and robust biofuels programs in their countries,” said Marri Tejada, regional director for Latin America for USGC, who signed the MOU on behalf of the council.