Vietnam said it has intensified efforts to promote biofuel production in the country under the plan on biofuel development to 2015 with a vision to 2025.
According to country’s energy ministry, Vietnam is focusing on production of ‘green gasoline’ from cassava, coconut, sesame, peanut, flax and jatropha, and from animal products such as catfish fat.
The government has instructed ministries to give incentives for the production and use of biofuel, defined as fuel made from these raw materials.
Under the plan on biofuel development to 2015 with a vision to 2025, Vietnam will produce 1.8 million tons of ethanol and vegetable oils for use as fuel annually, meeting 5 percent of domestic petrol and diesel demand in the next 15 years.
Many countries already manufacture large amounts of biofuels, especially in the US and Brazil. Once a big importer of oil, Brazil has substantially reduced its requirement thanks to biofuel development.
Some Asian countries are strongly investing in biofuels, among them Thailand, China and India.
There are about four million hectares of deforested hill country in Vietnam – including more than half the Central Highlands – which are considered to be suitable for growing jatropha curcas, the crop that many countries use for biofuel.
Jatropha has a high oil content, and can produce the feedstock for one to three tons of bio-diesel per hectare.
Experimental plantations of jatropha bushes, which grow in poor soils and have a life cycle of 30 years, are being established. The Dong Xanh Joint Stock Company is planting 30,000 hectares of jatropha in seven central provinces to supply its ethanol plant in Quang Nam.
The legal framework for biofuel production and trading in Vietnam is nearly complete.
Biofuel has been designated a key industry and biofuel production projects enjoy the highest level of investment incentives.
According to Government planners, from 2007 to 2010, Vietnam will finalise a legal framework to encourage the production and use of biofuel, design the roadmap for using biofuels in Vietnam, learning biofuel technologies, training human resources for this industry, zoning and developing material areas for biofuel, build biofuel plants to meet 0.4 percent of the country’s need for petrol by 2010. This start-up work is basically on schedule.
From 2011-2015, according to planners, Vietnam will begin to produce additives, enzymes and other materials for biofuels and expand their production, develop new varieties of high productivity, and expand biofuel plant capacity to satisfy 1 percent of the country’s need for petrol by 2015.
From 2016 to 2025, Vietnam will build an advanced biofuel industry that will produce 100 percent of the national requirement for E5 and B5 fuels, i.e., will provide five percent of the fuel needed to run the nation’s motor fleets.
Biofuels are a wide range of organic materials which are in some way derived from biomass and can be used to produce energy. The term covers solid biomass, liquid fuels and various biogases.
Ethanol is an alcohol made by fermenting the sugar components of plant materials and it is made mostly from sugar and starch crops. Using advanced technologies still under development, cellulosic biomass, such as trees and grasses, can also be used as feedstocks for ethanol production. Ethanol can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form, but it is typically used as a gasoline additive to increase octane and improve vehicle emissions.
Biodiesel is made from vegetable oils, animal fats or recycled greases. Biodiesel can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form, but it is usually used as a diesel additive to reduce levels of particulates, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons in emissions.
Biofuels in general have 70 per cent less CO2 emissions and 30 per cent less poisonous chemical emissions compared to petrol. Biofuel made from sugar has 89 per cent less CO2.
Compared to traditional fuel like coal and natural gas, biofuel produces less greenhouse gases, disintegrates faster and does less harm to water and land resources. It also causes less wear and tear on engines. A United Nations Environment Programme report showed biofuels accounted for 1.8 per cent of transport fuel. Ethanol production tripled between 2000-07 and biodiesel production rose eleven-fold. The UNEP report also said mandates to blend biofuel into fossil fuels for vehicles had been enacted in 17 countries by 2006, most requiring blending with 10-15 percent ethanol or 2-5 percent biodiesel.
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