|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 Bio-Fuels Annual 2007 (USDA FAS)