The potential role that biofuels might play in China's future transportation needs

Ling Li
From 1980 to 2010 China's energy use increased six fold to 2430 Mtoe/yr and it is projected to further increase by about 50% to 3359 Mtoe/yr by 2020. Currently renewable energy, such as bioenergy, hydro, solar and wind, contributes less than 9% of this total. During China's "industrial revolution" phase of economic growth (in the 1970/80's), coal was the major source of power and electricity with oil and natural gas playing a much lesser role. More recently, due to the rapid increase in the
more » ... er of motorized vehicles, the country has gone from oil self-sufficiency in the early 1960's to importing more than 271 Mt/yr of oil in 2012. China's biofuels industry is in its infancy with its current bioethanol production (primarily from corn) at 2.5 GL/yr and biodiesel production (primarily from waste cooking oil) at 0.4 GL/yr. Although the national goal is to produce 12.7 GL bioethanol and 2.3 GL of biodiesel by 2020, the potential for growth of so-called first generation or conventional biofuels is very limited due to food-vs-fuels concerns and China's desire to be as self-sufficient as possible in food production. Thus, research, development and demonstration (RD&D) is being encouraged to grow and process so-called one-and-a-half generation crops such as sweet sorghum with a goal of producing 9 GL of ethanol by utilizing 40% of the available marginal land. However, to date, few plantation or conversion facilities have been built. Regarding so-called second-generation facilities, China has the potential to annually produce 22 GL of cellulosic ethanol by utilizing 15% of its 874 Mt agricultural residues. This could increase to 29 GL bioethanol by 2020, using 15% of the 1150 Mt residue that is anticipated to be available at that time. Biodiesel growth is expected to be achieved by growing oil-bearing trees with the potential of producing 2.5-6.7 GL/yr grown on 10% of the available marginal land. However, it is unlikely that biofuels will contribute substantially to China's transport sector and that, even with [...]
doi:10.14288/1.0165677 fatcat:cpjrchty6bechk7tjvrem7ptj4