China Aims to Double Ethanol Output to 4 Million Tonnes by 2020

China is aiming to produce 4 million tonnes of ethanol by 2020, doubling output from the current level, even as it keeps tight control over the use of food grains to make the biofuel, a government plan showed on Monday.

The world’s largest energy consumer plans to raise the non-fossil fuel portion of primary energy consumption to 15 percent from 12 percent by the end of its current five-year plan in 2020.

But while other forms of renewable energy such as wind and solar have expanded rapidly in recent years, the country has struggled to meet its targets for agricultural energy production amid concerns over food security and a lack of large-scale collection of biomass raw materials, such as corn stalks.

China currently produces 2.1 million tonnes of ethanol a year, despite targetting production capacity of 4 million tonnes in its previous five-year plan that ended in 2015.

It reiterated the 4 million-tonne goal in its new five-year plan to 2020, published by the National Energy Administration.

China is also aiming for 15 gigawatts (GW) of installed biomass energy capacity by 2020, up from 10 GW currently, after failing to reach a previous target of 13 GW in 2015.

The plan called for the “promotion and application of fuel ethanol” as well as “vigorous development of fibre ethanol”, such as ethanol made from cellulosic fibre, which uses the non-edible parts of plants.

However it also acknowledged that there has not yet been any breakthroughs in cellulosic fuel.

Ethanol made from cassava and other non-grain sources should see “appropriate development”, while that from food sources should be controlled, except in cases where crops are unfit for human consumption.

Source: Reuters

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