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Ponni Sugars MD eyes ethanol foray to fuel future growth and will set up ethanol plant of 45 kl/day

In sync with the government's push to divert sugarcane to ease the glut in the sugar sector and promote biofuels, Ponni Sugars (Erode) Ltd is likely to start production of ethanol in the next 12-18 months.

"We had applied for environment clearance for setting up an ethanol plant. It has just crossed the preliminary stage and a couple of more stages are yet to go. A public hearing also needs to take place before the final approval," Ponni Sugars Managing Director N. Ramanathan told .


Ramanathan said that once these processes are complete, it may take about a year to set up the ethanol plant.

The Tamil Nadu-based sugar manufacturing company with cane crushing capacity of 3,500 tn per day is planning to set up an ethanol plant with capacity of 45 kl per day. The company also has a co-generation plant of 19 MW.

Faced with excess cane production for the last few years, there has been a concerted effort by the policymakers to make the sugar industry consider alternative sources to generate revenue such as production of ethanol.

"…ethanol is definitely the future of the sugar industry…Our capacity is not very high, it is 45 kl per day which is the minimum size… With Tamil Nadu's limited sugarcane availability, I cannot plan for a higher capacity to start with," he said.

In 2018-19 (Dec-Nov), Tamil Nadu had supplied a mere 74,800 kl ethanol to oil marketing companies to reach blending level of 2.1%, against the requirement of 306,254 kl.

According to rough estimates, the sugar company would incur an expenditure of around 750 mln rupees on setting up ethanol plant, of which 500-600 mln rupees would be borrowed from banks.

"Cost estimates keep varying from time to time as you get into more details as to what kind of facilities you want, the pollution clearance methodology you will adopt, all these will be clear once we sit with the machinery supplier…It is all very-very premature and roughly it is 75 crore (750 mln rupees)," Ramanathan said.

–Ponni Sugars MD looking for :

- To make foray into ethanol segment

–To set up ethanol plant of 45 kl/day capacity

–Estimate 750-mln-rupee cost for setting up distillery

–Environment clearance for distillery still pending

–Govt must hasten environ clearance for ethanol projects

–Ethanol is future of sugar industry

–India must triple ethanol output capacity in 2-3 yrs

–COVID-19 impact on sugar industry very marginal

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