Plan calls for diversifying ethanol production sources

16:39 | 16/11/2017 Energy

(VEN) - Ensuring sufficient raw material for ethanol plants is crucial for the production of E5 bio-fuel, with which the government wants to replace the current RON 92 petrol.

plan calls for diversifying ethanol production sources
Cassava growing areas are a potential source of material for bio-fuel production

Cassava growing

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Crop Production Department has drafted a plan for cassava growing to provide raw material for ethanol production under the government’s bio-fuel development program.

Under the draft plan, by 2020, Vietnam will have 159,000ha of cassava for bio-fuel production facilities, accounting for 35.45 percent of total cassava area nationwide. These areas will yield nearly 300,000kg of cassava per hectare, with annual output expected to reach 4.8 million tonnes, ensuring sufficient supplies for 10 bio-fuel plants to operate at full capacity.

In the 2021-2030 period, total cassava area is expected to increase to 550,000ha with yields set to grow 2.69 percent per year and annual output to reach 16.5 million tonnes, of which 5.35 million tonnes will be provided for cassava starch production, 5.4 million tonnes for ethanol production, and 4.93 million tonnes for export.

According to Nguyen Hong Son, Director of the Crop Production Department, cassava-growing areas nationwide currently total 570,000ha, yielding 11 million tonnes of fresh roots or 3.6 million tonnes of dried cassava chips per year. This output is insufficient for both cassava starch and ethanol production.

Meanwhile, cassava is grown mostly in areas that still face difficulties and therefore can hardly invest in expanding production. Moreover, cassava cannot be grown in fertile areas because this kind of tree impoverishes soil quickly. Therefore, E5 bio-fuel production cannot depend entirely on cassava as the only material resource.

plan calls for diversifying ethanol production sources
It is necessary to improve the capacity of cassava processing plants

Diverse resources needed

As guided by the prime minister, E5 bio-fuel will be sold nationwide from January 1, 2018 to replace RON 92 petrol. Experts believe diversifying material resources for ethanol production is crucial. Nguyen Hong Son said cassava, sugarcane and jatropha plants will be grown as key resources for ethanol production.

According to Son, cassava will remain an important material resource for ethanol production. Therefore, research needs to be undertaken to create new cassava varieties that are of higher quality and give higher yields. At the same time, it is necessary to increase intensive cultivation and apply sustainable farming methods in growing cassava to ensure stable material supplies for cassava starch and ethanol production facilities.

In addition, it is necessary to improve the capacity of cassava processing plants and maintain their linkages with material production areas. Processing plants should sign contracts with cassava farmers to buy their products at reasonable prices, encouraging farmers to invest in intensive cultivation to increase yields.

Vietnam offers favorable conditions for bio-fuel production by cultivating crops, such as cassava, sugarcane and jatropha plants.

Nguyen Hanh