This investigation presents an assessment of the potential use of sugar cane to support sustainable development in Colombia with a particular focus on devising ways of supplying electricity to regions without service (about 1.8 million people and 66% of the territory). The goal of this study is to evaluate the technical and economic feasibility of using small to medium scale modern technologies to exploit the co-production of two of the major forms of energy that can be derived from the sugar cane plant: ethanol (by fermentation and distillation of the cane juice) and electricity (by cogeneration of bagasse). The market potential for ethanol, electricity and carbon credits (for associated emissions reduction) is examined and a site selection analysis is performed to decide the most suitable location within the Non-Interconnected Zones (NZI) in Colombia. Development scenarios are constructed and analyzed in the context of the markets identified, combining different alternative technologies. Production costs of sugar cane, investment costs, operating costs, labour costs and maintenance costs are estimated for each development scenario, and economic and financial characteristics are quantified and compared, to determine which options are the most attractive. The study identifies that the key factors which affect the feasibility of distilleries with CHP systems in Colombia are: 1) specific location and conditions, 2) type of technologies used, efficiencies and maximum capacities of production, 3) total investment costs, 4) incomes for ethanol, electricity and emissions reduction and 5) national and global incentives.

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