China today announced that it would extend the use of bioethanol gasoline nationwide by 2020, days after it unveiled plans to ban petrol and diesel cars and boost electric vehicles in a bid to contain air pollution and restrict traffic congestion.
China, the world's third-largest bioethanol producer, aims to build an advanced liquid biofuel system and put into operation a demonstration facility that will be able to produce 50,000 tonnes of cellulosic ethanol a year by 2020.
"The plan to bioethanol was unveiled as the country is pushing the use of biofuel, which is renewable, applicable, tech-savvy and environmental-friendly. It is an ideal alternative to fossil fuel," the National Development and Reform Commission and National Energy Administration (NEA) said today.
Ethanol fuel, known as E10, contains 10 per cent of ethanol. It is commonly used worldwide since it is believed to cut carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide emissions and help ease the energy supply bottleneck.
Ethanol can be produced both from sucrose (beet or sugarcane) and corn.
China launched corn-to-ethanol pilot programmes in 2004 as part of efforts to cut emissions and advance new energy.
The country banned the use of grain for ethanol production in 2007 to ensure sufficient food supply, and biofuel manufacturers have since turned to sweet potatoes, sorghum and straw stalks instead.
It later lifted the ban in 11 provinces including Jilin, Liaoning and Heilongjiang provinces in the northeast, Henan and Hebei provinces in the north, Anhui, Shandong and Jiangsu provinces in the east, the central province of Hubei, and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in the southwest.
Guangxi is the first Chinese locality to commercially produce ethanol with cassava instead of grain.
The latest plan is also part of the effort to ease oversupply of aging corn.
More than 40 countries and regions consume about 600 million tonnes of ethanol fuel every year, accounting for around 60 per cent of the world's annual gasoline use.
China is the world's third-largest bioethanol producer and uses nearly 2.6 million tonnes a year. Gasoline blended with ethanol accounts for one-fifth of its annual gasoline consumption, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The plan echoes the country's decision to consider a timetable to phase out production and sales of fossil fuel cars to cut emissions, reduce pollution and save fossil fuel energy, the Xinhua report said.
On September 11, China's vice minister of industry and information technology Xin Guobin during an automobile forum said that Beijing has started research on a timetable to phase out production and sales of fossil fuel cars.
Though Xin gave no details on the timeframe, he said, "The measures would surely bring profound changes to the sector's development."
The plan would follow decisions by France and Britain which have announced plans to ban the manufacturing and sales of cars running on traditional fuels.
China, the world's top automobile market, manufactured and sold over 28 million vehicles in 2016, according to the International Organisation of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers.
The country has been implementing a slew of measures, including tax exemptions, discounts for car purchases and an order for government organisations to buy more new energy vehicles (NEVs).
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)