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China Fuel Ethanol Production Projected to Increase 12% in 2007

Production of fuel ethanol in China. Click to enlarge.

A report from the US Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA FAS) estimates that the production of fuel ethanol in China will reach 1.45 million tonnes (484 million gallons US) in 2007, up 12% from 1.3 million tonnes in 2006. Official production of fuel ethanol in China began in 2004.

Ethanol is of increasing importance in China. Last year, the National Development Reform Commission (NDRC) introduced a 5-year plan that set a target of 5.22 million tonnes (1.74 billion gallons US) by 2010. Concerned with the rising food prices and the potential for a fuel-food conflict, the State Council did not approve the plan.

Now, according to the FAS report, plans are to increase ethanol feedstocks from non-arable lands making the use of tuber crops and sweet sorghum. Given the new constraints, a realistic 2010 target appears to be between 3 and 4 million tonnes (1 billion and 1.33 billion gallons US).

China looks to biofuels production as a means of mitigating rural poverty as well as addressing its energy needs. Most ethanol plants are currently in the northeast, and provide an outlet for 10% of the corn production of those provinces (Jilin, Liaoning, Heilongjian, Hebei, and Henan). Northwestern provinces (Xinjiang, Qinghai, Inner Mongolia and Gansu) could increase their agricultural market by growing sweet sorghum for ethanol production. In the south, sugar cane, cassava and Jatropha production could be expanded to meet increased ethanol production objectives, according to the FAS.

Currently, nine provinces participate in the fuel ethanol program, and remain the priority for the use of an E10 blend. Five of these provinces have close to full use of E10, according to the report, while four provinces have only partly adopted the product.

This year, the NDRC is inviting  proposals for the construction of 10 to 15 pilot ethanol plants based on non-grain feedstocks.

Transportation fuel use. “Gasohol” is E10. Click to enlarge.

Diesel is the primary fuel used in China. In 2006, China consumed 120 million tonnes of diesel and 40 million tonnes of unblended gasoline. A rise in the use of E10 has caused gasoline consumption to plateau over the last four years. During this time, automobile use in China has increased on average 11.8% annually.

China has no national standard on biodiesel use as a transportation fuel, and currently no national or provincial programs to promote the use of biodiesel in transportation.




China's central government recognized the risk of fuel competing with food. I wonder if our "free market" system could demonstrate such wisdom. I am not in favor of government control of everything, but I would like to see some government interest in the welfare (not in the perjorative sense) of the citizens.

Stan Peterson

Little noted in the push for cheap cellulosic ethanol, is that it is a way of providing ntrition for billions of people, either directly or indirectly through animal protein.

No longer will a forest of cellulose exist amidst a famine. The entire forest is now digestible by more than ruminants.

No longer will a forest of cellulose exist amidst a famine. The entire forest is now digestible by more than ruminants.
Someone wrote an "end of the world" SF story about that exact scenario; humans were modified to be able to eat cellulose, and they literally ate the whole biosphere before starving en masse.

Let's make sure it doesn't get that far.


Last time I gnawed on wood was to abate nervous energy not produce it. Of course wood-eating people would be a clear danger to the park system - not to mention neighbors who build homes from trees.

With the progress in LiIo tech, I would think it more plausible to replace corporal energy needs with batteries. We could then plug in to the grid and avoid messy biomass consumption and waste issues...


Just give people photovoltaic (or photosynthetic) clothes, integuments or whatever and finish the process.

So many people act like potted plants anyway, it would be appropriate for them to fit the role exactly.


I would like to invite all audience to visit a newly lounched site dedicated to biofuels, ethanol and climate issues. Potential writers are wellcome to write to [email protected]

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