China Stepping up Biofuels Development

John Davis

As China’s economy continues to grow, the country’s consumption of oil grows with it. And with the Chinese recognizing there aren’t unlimited resources of petroleum out there, they seem to be embracing more biofuels… in particular biodiesel. Renewable Energy Access has reprinted a story talking about the development of a new rapeseed, which the Ministry of Agriculture reports, has an record-setting oil content of 54.7%. Officials believe the new seed could produce as much oil for mixing in biodiesel as the equivilant of 1.5 times that of the country’s largest oil field.

In addition, some woody plants… such as the Chinese pistachio… are being seen as having a great potential in biodiesel production. The Chinese pistachio grows in 11 provinces throughout the country.

But the Chinese are having some issues. According to the article, the government is having a tough time tracking the actual number of biodiesel facilities out there.

Behind the enthusiasm in China’s bustling biodiesel development, however, is disorder in both production and marketing, said Wang Zhongying, director of the Energy Research Institute of the Center for Renewable Energy Development in Beijing. “Driven by the potential profits from biodiesel, many private investors just go ahead with production and marketing without any reference to the government,” he said.

As a result, it is not even known how many biodiesel factories exactly exist in China, said Zhu Ming, dean of the Academy of Planning and Design under the Ministry of Agriculture. Also lacking are standards and regulations for the biodiesel industry, according to Professor Tan Tianwei of the Biological Sciences and Technology Department of Beijing University of Chemical Technology.

And there’s debate in the country over the use of land for oil production that could go to Europe as opposed to the same land being used for food production in China. Officials do point out that the Chinese pistachio does not compete for food land.

Biodiesel, International