Fri, Jul 06, 2007 - Page 11 News List

Taiwan planning biodiesel increase

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Taiwan is targeting a 25-fold increase in biodiesel use in the next three years to cut reliance on energy imports and reduce emissions of harmful gases, a government official said yesterday.

Biodiesel use may rise to 100,000 kiloliter or 630,000 barrels in 2010, from an estimated 4,000 kiloliters this year, Yeh Huey-ching (葉惠青), head of the Bureau of Energy, said in an interview. Diesel sold at filling stations will have to contain 1 percent biofuel starting next year from zero now, he said.

Energy from the nation's own resources, mostly hydropower and natural gas, accounts for just 1.8 percent of supplies. Taiwan will use soybeans, sunflower seeds and recycled cooking oil to make biodiesel and turn sweet potatoes and corn into ethanol, Yeh said yesterday.

"We are developing clean and alternative energy sources," Yeh said.

The biofuels plan may contribute to Taiwan eventually meeting as much as 8 percent of its own energy needs, he said, without giving a timeframe.

Lawmakers must approve the proposal, which requires a change to the Petroleum Management Law (石油管理法).

Biodiesel use last year was restricted to "a few hundred kiloliters" consumed mostly by garbage removal trucks. Consumption of ethanol for transportation may rise to 100,000 kiloliters in 2011, from zero now, he said.

The project needs the support of state-run CPC Corp, Taiwan (台灣中油) and Formosa Petrochemical Corp (台塑石化), the nation's two oil refiners. CPC will start selling diesel with 1 percent biofuel content at 82 gasoline stations later this month.

Starting September, eight CPC-run service stations will sell gasoline containing 3 percent ethanol and government departments will be encouraged to use the fuel, Yeh said.

Buses in Kaohsiung have been running on fuel that contains 2 percent biodiesel since January, he said.

Thirty-five lines and 79 buses in Chiayi County have started using fuel that contains 5 percent biodiesel since this month, Yeh said. Starting July 27, gas stations in Taoyuan and Chiayi counties will provide fuel containing 1 percent biodiesel to consumers, he said.

Taiwan had 2,615 gasoline stations as of last month, according to the energy bureau. Diesel demand totaled 6.3 million kiloliters last year, while 10.3 million kiloliters of gasoline was used.

Requiring all filling stations to sell biodiesel will mark a "revolutionary step" for Taiwan, Yeh said.

Biodiesel costs NT$53 (US$1.6) a liter, according to the energy bureau. That's more than double the NT$25.8 CPC charges for its premium diesel at filling stations.

Additional reporting by Jessie Ho

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