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Information about biofuels and bioenergy in China.










  • RSPO Seeks to Certify Indonesian Crude Palm Oil, 23 November 2011 by Jakarta Globe: "The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil aims to certify 3 million tons of Indonesian crude palm oil as sustainable, up 50 percent from this year’s original target of 2 million."
    • "Green campaigners say palm plantations are some of the biggest threats to the sustainability of rainforests in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, which produce 85 percent of the world’s supply of the commodity."
    • "A producer’s CPO can be certified if it can demonstrate that the production process does not cause undue harm to the environment or society."
    • "Worldwide demand for CPO is around 45 million tons, with the biggest markets in India, China and Europe."
    • "Indonesia’s Palm Oil Association (Gapki) in October withdrew its membership from RSPO, saying it would focus on helping to develop the government-backed sustainability scheme."[2]
  • China Makes Its First Biofuel-Powered Flight, 1 November 2011 by Forbes: "China joined the green jet age on Friday when an Air China 747 circled Beijing on a demonstration flight powered by a plant-based biofuel made by Honeywell UOP."
    • "One of the 747-400’s engines ran on a 50-50 blend of Honeywell’s Green Jet Fuel and standard petroleum aviation fuel."
    • "The biofuel was derived from jatropha, an inedible plant grown by PetroChina, a state-owned oil company, on a plantation in southwest China and refined by Honeywell."
    • "Honeywell is working with PetroChina, Air China and Boeing to create an aviation biofuels infrastructure in China."
    • "In June, a Gulfstream G450 owned by Honeywell made the first biofuel-powered transatlantic flight when it flew from New Jersey to Paris using a 50-50 blend of Green Jet Fuel in one of its engine."[3]
  • Biofuels Mandates Around the World, 21 July 2011 by Biofuels Digest: "In Florida, the Digest today releases its annual review of biofuels mandates and targets around the world, looking at the state of biofuels mandates in 52 countries around the world."
    • "The bulk of mandates comes from the EU-27, where the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) specifies a 10 percent renewables content by 2020 across the entire membership – though 7 percent of that will come from biofuels, the balance from the electrification of the fleet. The other 21 countries are primarily in Asia."
    • "Besides the EU, the major blending mandates that will drive global demand are those set in the US, China and Brazil – each of which has set targets – or, in the case of Brazil, is already there – at levels in the 15-20 percent range by 2020-2022."
    • "The major biofuels mandates – with some estimates of 2020 consumption, translate into the major drivers of the 60 billion gallons of global biofuels demand that are widely discussed, without addressing the demand for aviation, or the mandates in place in countries such as Canada, Australia, or throughout Southeast Asia."[4]
  • Cargill Sets Sights on Worldwide Sustainable Palm Oil by 2020, 13 July 2011 by "Agribusiness giant Cargill plans to only offer palm oil -- an ingredient in Girl Scout cookies and numerous other foods -- that is certified sustainable in select countries by 2015 and worldwide by 2020."
    • "Cargill aims to have all of the palm oil it sells in Europe, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand be certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) within the next four years."
    • "Cargill then plans for all palm oil sold in China, India and elsewhere to be RSPO-certified by 2020."
    • "The first goal, however, excludes palm kernel oil, which is produced from the same oil palm trees that palm oil comes from and is used in food products, soaps and other goods."
    • "The Rainforest Action Network, which has been dogging Cargill about its palm oil use, says that while the goals are a good start, the deadlines are too far away, RSPO certification is weak and palm kernel oil shouldn't be left out."
    • "Cargill says, though, that it's trying to be realistic with its goals, and is aiming for achievable targets."[5]
  • China Set to Increase Use of Biofuels, 28 April 2011 by "China can become a leader in the production of second-generation (2G) biofuels, made from agricultural waste instead of foodstuffs, such as sugar, starch and vegetable oils said a senior executive from one of the industries' leading companies."
    • "By developing 2G technology, China can reduce the import volume of crude oil, and reduce CO2 emissions by 90 percent from current levels, Michael Christiansen, president of Novozymes (China) Investment Co Ltd, said."
    • "The nation has announced plans to reduce CO2 emissions by 40 to 45 percent by 2020. It's expected that energy consumption of non-fossil fuels could account for more than 11 percent of the country's total energy consumption by 2015."
    • "In addition, 2G biofuel production could benefit the economy with less effect on food supply and prices."
    • "China's use of biofuel ethanol will reach 12.7 billion liters by 2020, while automotive ethanol gasoline usage will be 100 percent, and annual consumption of biodiesel will reach 2.3 billion liters, according to the targets set by the National Development and Reform Commission."[6]
  • Rush to Use Crops as Fuel Raises Food Prices and Hunger Fears, 7 April 2011 by the New York Times: "The starchy cassava root has long been an important ingredient in everything from tapioca pudding and ice cream to paper and animal feed."
    • "But last year, 98 percent of cassava chips exported from Thailand, the world’s largest cassava exporter, went to just one place and almost all for one purpose: to China to make biofuel."
    • "Each year, an ever larger portion of the world’s crops — cassava and corn, sugar and palm oil — is being diverted for biofuels as developed countries pass laws mandating greater use of nonfossil fuels and as emerging powerhouses like China seek new sources of energy to keep their cars and industries running. Cassava is a relatively new entrant in the biofuel stream."
    • "But with food prices rising sharply in recent months, many experts are calling on countries to scale back their headlong rush into green fuel development, arguing that the combination of ambitious biofuel targets and mediocre harvests of some crucial crops is contributing to high prices, hunger and political instability."
    • "'The fact that cassava is being used for biofuel in China, rapeseed is being used in Europe, and sugar cane elsewhere is definitely creating a shift in demand curves,' said Timothy D. Searchinger, a research scholar at Princeton University who studies the topic. 'Biofuels are contributing to higher prices and tighter markets.'"[7]
  • China biofuel policy may be in conflict with food security objectives, 28 March 2011 by "The United States Department of Agriculture says China's food security objectives may clash with its energy independence and environmental objectives, limiting the development of biofuels, according to the latest publication by the US International Trade Commission."
    • "Like wheat, the Chinese government views corn as important for national food security and provides support for domestic corn growers by guaranteeing prices for domestic corn from state-owned enterprises and by providing subsidized seed, while controlling exports to ensure that corn is available for domestic use. But strong demand, coupled with poor production in 2009-2010 led China to import around 1.5 million mt of US corn and in 2010, China became a net corn importer."
    • "According to the report, China has been making an effort to move away from grain-based ethanol production and into alternative feedstocks. Until May 2006, government subsidies were limited to fuel ethanol, at which time the central government outlined the creation of a special fund to encourage the development of renewable energy resources, including ethanol and biodiesel."
    • "China's National Reform and Development Commission asserts that targeted biofuel production will not threaten China's grain security, but feedstock sources may be expanded to include sugar, oilseeds, sweet sorghum, wheat, and cassava, resulting in higher imports of these feedstocks."[8]
  • BP declares biofuels the only route to cleaner transport, 3 March 2011 by Business Green: "Biofuels is the 'only game in town' when it comes to decarbonising the transport sector, according to Olivier Mace, a senior BP executive, who also downplayed the potential for electric vehicles as a near-term replacement for conventional cars."
    • "Mace said he expected growing demand in India and China would by 2030 push the biofuel share of all road transport fuel well above the 12 per cent mark BP has previously predicted."
    • "But despite the industry's enthusiasm, Kenneth Richter, biofuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth, warned that growing demand for energy crops would contribute to rising emissions."
    • ""Research has shown that the current rush to biofuel will lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, rather than a reduction," Richter told BusinessGreen. "This is caused by the need to convert massive amounts of natural habitat into biofuel plantations."[9]
  • Failure to act on crop shortages fuelling political instability, experts warn, 7 February 2011 by The Guardian: "World leaders are ignoring potentially disastrous shortages of key crops, and their failures are fuelling political instability in key regions, food experts have warned."
    • "Food prices have hit record levels in recent weeks, according to the United Nations, and soaring prices for staples such as grains over the past few months are thought to have been one of the factors contributing to an explosive mix of popular unrest in Egypt and Tunisia."
    • "Water scarcity, combined with soil erosion, climate change, the diversion of food crops to make biofuels, and a growing population, were all putting unprecedented pressure on the world's ability to feed itself, according to [Lester] Brown" of the Earth Policy Institute.
    • "Richer countries such as China and Middle Eastern oil producers have reacted by buying up vast tracts of land in poorer parts of the world, such as sub-Saharan Africa and parts of south-east Asia."[10]
  • Malaysian palm oil destroying forests, report warns, 2 February 2011 by the Guardian: "Study by Wetlands International claims level of palm oil-related deforestation in Malaysia is higher than previously thought."
    • "The report claims that between 2005 and 2010, almost 353,000 hectares of peat swamp forests were cleared – a third of Malaysia's total – largely for palm oil production."
    • "The clearing, draining and burning of peat swamp forests is responsible for about 10 per cent of mankind's greenhouse gas emissions, according to Wetlands International."
    • "Palm oil firms in Malaysia and Indonesia are under increasing pressure by major Western retailers and consumer goods brands, many of which use palm oil in their products, to halt the expansion of plantations that lead to forest clearance."
    • "Some Malaysian palm oil producers have also joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, but strong demand from India and China for unsustainably sourced oil means others can avoid doing so without necessarily harming their market share."[11]


  • Call to ban corn-based ethanol production, 10 August 2010 by Zhang Ming'ai: "Zhao Youshan, chairman of the Oil Flow Commission of the China General Chamber of Commerce, told the Beijing Times that they have submitted a letter to the NDRC in an attempt to ban corn-based ethanol production, because it has pushed up corn prices at home and turned China into a corn-importing country in the first half of this year from previously a corn-exporting country."
    • "In 2004, in order to promote the development of renewable energy and new energy, the NDRC and the Ministry of Finance jointly put forward a policy, under which testing programs were launched in Heilongjiang to produce ethanol fuel from corn. Factories could get a subsidy of 1,880 yuan and be exempted from all taxes by producing one ton of ethanol fuel."[13]
  • Subsidies for Renewables, Biofuels Dwarfed by Supports for Fossil Fuels, 29 July 2010 by Business Wire: "New research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance reveals that despite many platitudes and pledges, governments of the world are spending substantially more on subsidizing dirty forms of energy than on renewables and biofuels. In fact, support for cleaner sources is dwarfed by the help the oil, coal, and other fossil fuel sectors receive."
    • "The BNEF preliminary analysis suggests the US is the top country, as measured in dollars deployed, in providing direct subsidies for clean energy with an estimated $18.2bn spent in total in 2009. Approximately 40% of this went toward supporting the US biofuels sector with the rest going towards renewables."
    • "China, the world leader in new wind installations in 2009 with 14GW, provided approximately $2bn in direct subsidies, according to the preliminary analysis. This figure is deceptive, however, as much crucial support for clean energy in the country comes in form of low-interest loans from state-owned banks."[14]
  • China, US launch airline biofuel venture, 26 May 2010 by By Joe McDonald: "The United States and China launched a research venture Wednesday to develop biofuels for use by Chinese airlines based on algae or oily nuts and said an inaugural flight could come as early as this year."
    • "The two sides signed a series of research partnerships between Boeing Co., U.S. government agencies and Chinese research institutions and state companies including Air China Ltd. and PetroChina Ltd."
    • "The first flight in China using biofuels could happen this year, and the fuel could be in use in commercial aviation in three to five years, said Al Bryant, Boeing's vice president for research and technology in China. He said four test flights using biofuels have been flown successfully in the United States."
    • "Chinese companies have yet to decide which plants to use as a fuel source, but researchers are looking at algae and jatropha, a tree grown in south China that produces an oily nut, Bryant said."[15]
  • China Farm Gets Shocking Amount of Power From Cow Poop, 6 May 2010 by The New York Times: "A 250,000-head dairy operation in northeast China plans to open the world's largest cow manure-fed power project in September, according to General Electric Co., the company supplying four biogas turbines to the Liaoning Huishan Cow Farm in Shenyang. For comparison, the largest U.S. dairy farms have 15,000 cattle."
    • "China's newest livestock digester will reduce piles of dung, yield fertilizer and heat, and will supply 38,000 megawatt-hours of power annually to the state's power grid, enough to meet the average demand of some 15,000 Chinese residents. It produces biogas, a methane and carbon dioxide mix emanating from manure, grease, sewage or other organic materials allowed to stew in an oxygen-free chamber."
    • "The barriers to the expansion of biogas are about economics, not technology, and how long it takes for biogas projects to pay off varies country by country."
    • "The biogas field could be one more example of the ways the United States is falling behind China. Yesterday, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said that the United States is lagging behind China, which provides strong tax incentives for a host of renewable energy technologies."[16]
  • Food and water drive Africa land grab, 29 April 2010 by UPI: "[T]he scramble for Africa is intensifying, with investment banks, hedge funds, commodity traders, sovereign wealth funds, corporations and business tycoons out to grab some of the world's cheapest land -- for profit."
    • "China has leased 6.91 million acres in the Democratic Republic of Congo for the world's largest oil palm plantation."
    • "According to various assessments, up to 123.5 million acres of African land -- double the size of Britain -- has been snapped up or is being negotiated by governments or wealthy investors."
    • "As the foreign purchases of African land multiply unchecked, the United Nations and the World Bank are seeking to bring the land-grabbing under some sort of control."[17]
  • PRC's Drive to Tap Biogas in Rural Sector Gets ADB Loan, 19 April 2010 press release by the Asian Development Bank: "The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) drive to expand the use of biogas energy generated from waste materials is getting support from a $66.08 million Asian Development Bank (ADB) loan."
    • "The financial assistance for the Integrated Renewable Biomass Energy Development Sector Project has been approved by ADB's Board of Directors. The loan will be used to help construct biogas plants in poor rural areas of Heilongjiang, Henan, Jiangxi and Shandong provinces, benefiting 118 livestock farms and agricultural enterprises.
    • "The project will introduce high-temperature flare technology to minimize methane gas emissions from the plants. It will support the manufacture of bio-fertilizers from biogas sludge for eco-farming, aiding the government’s push to encourage the reuse and recycling of organic waste."
    • "Under PRC’s Medium- and Long-Term Development Plan for Renewable Energy, about 10,000 large-scale biogas plants are earmarked to be set up on livestock farms by 2020 with an annual biogas yield of up to 14 billion cubic meters."[18]


  • Aviation turns to China for biofuels capacity development, 13 September 2009 by Biofuels Digest: The "global aviation industry, which has set a target of 3 billion gallons of aviation biofuels by 2020, has begun an historic shift in focus to Chinese leadership in biofuels capacity development".
    • "In related news, Boeing confirmed that it has commenced talks with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and 'several Chinese universities' about a potential development of low-carbon aviation biofuels. CCTV is reporting that near-term opportunities for collaboration between Boeing and China’s alternative energy industry could focus on jatropha development in Yunnan, Sichuan and Guizhou provinces and Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. According to Xinhua News Agency, China is projecting '13 million hectares of biofuel plantations by 2020,' primarily to meet increased internal energy needs."[19]
  • (China) Biofuels: learning from Obama, 21 August 2009 by China Dialogue: A 2005 "report from the energy bureau at the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s top economic planners, found that China could collect between 800 million and one billion tonnes of biomass from regular agricultural and forestry activities....By 2020, China would be able to reap an annual estimated harvest of two billion tonnes of biomass."
    • "China already has the foundation it needs to commercialise cellulosic ethanol production. [For instance,] China was previously a world leader in acid and enzyme hydrolysis."
    • "In accelerating the development of biofuel energy, China must coordinate on a national level and concentrate on two aspects....First, while commercialising mature technology as soon as possible, China should also strengthen basic research in key fields."
    • "Second, while supporting commercial demonstration projects, industry need to coordinate development of upstream production, such as large-scale sustainable feedstock, and downstream issues, such as transport and sales infrastructure and the optimisation of vehicles for use with E85 alcohol fuel mixture. Legislation, such as standards for environmentally friendly vehicles and low-carbon fuels, must be put in place. This will ensure the materials, the market and the regulations that are needed to meet our targets."[20]
  • Sustainable palm oil gets boost in China, 14 July 2009 by WWF: "Major China-based producers and users of palm oil have announced they intend to provide more support for sustainable palm oil, an important boost for efforts to halt tropical deforestation."
    • "The public statement, made at the 2nd International Oil and Fats Summit in Beijing on July 9, committed the companies to 'support the promotion, procurement and use of sustainable palm oil in China,' as well as 'support the production of sustainable palm oil through any investments in producing countries.'"
    • "China is currently the world's largest importer of palm oil, accounting for one third of all global trade. Increasing demand for palm oil, which is used in everything from soap to chocolate bars, is causing considerable damage to fragile rainforest environments, threatening endangered species like tigers, and contributing to global climate change."[21]
  • Small-scale biofuels production holds more promise, says USAID, 21 June 2009 by BusinessMirror: "Decentralized biofuel production, or small-scale factories built on degraded or underused lands, has the potential to provide energy to half a billion people living in poverty in rural Asia."
    • " The report, Biofuels in Asia: An Analysis of Sustainability Options…focused on China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. It analyzed key trends and concerns and highlighted sustainability options for biofuel production."
    • "Compared with large-scale biofuels production, small-scale biofuels production for local use may deliver greater social benefits, including improvement of rural livelihoods, support of local industries, and a lower tendency toward exploitation of workers and co-opting of land from indigenous peoples."
  • (Aviation) Commercial use of biofuels may take time, 25 April 2009 by "Despite broad optimism in the aviation industry about the commercial use of biofuels, experts in Asia believe this won't happen very soon."
    • "On April 1, at the conclusion of an industry summit in Geneva, about 400 aviation and environment leaders set an industry timeline for aviation biofuels....By the end of the year, a set of environmental sustainability standards for aviation biofuels should be in place, they said in a summit declaration."
    • "In a separate interview, biofuels specialist Florello Galindo, director of Manila-based Asian Institute of Petroleum Studies Inc. (AIPSI), said China and Japan, being the region's main players in aviation manufacturing, would likely determine the fate of aviation biofuel use in Asia."[23]


  • Chemical Breakthrough Turns Sawdust Into Biofuel, 23 July 2008 by ABC News: "A wider of range of plant material could be turned into biofuels thanks to a breakthrough that converts plant molecules called lignin into liquid hydrocarbons."
    • "Breaking down complex plant molecules such as cellulose and lignin is a tricky business."… Now scientists "at Peking University in Beijing, China ... have come up with a lignin breakdown reaction that more reliably produces the alkanes and alcohols needed for biofuels"


  • US and China sign biofuels cooperation pact, 11 December 2007 by Biopact. Governments have of the United States and China signed a memorandum of understanding that they will share technology through scientific exchanges. It is hoped that this initiative will help meet both countries' lofty goals for biofuels, and assist farmers in the process.
  • China fires up biomass plants, 4 December 2007 by Reuters, reports that eight new biomass plants with a combined capacity of 200 megawatts have been launched in China by National Bio Energy Co. (a subsidiary of State Grid Corp.), "in leading grain-producing provinces in hopes of cutting carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation." The facilities "are expected to burn 1.6 million tons of stalks a year."
  • Chinese Biofuels Expansion Threatens Ecological Balance, 27 March 2007 from Renewable Energy Access. A recent agreement between China's top forestry authority and one of the nation's biggest energy giants to develop biofuels plantations in the southwest may come at great environmental loss to the region's forests and biological diversity.



International net loss and net gain in 'forest' by country for the period 1990-2005 (modified from the World Resources Institute)



Biofuel production


  • Implementation of Biogas Digestion to Clean up China’s Livestock Industry and Provide Rural Energy (an Environmental Health Research Brief by the Woodrow Wilson Center) - reports on biogas projects in China, including how biogas digesters can help make use of livestock waste while providing energy in farming areas.
    • This report notes that while "biogas power systems currently only account for a little over 100 MW in China, and are used mainly for cooking, lighting, and heating by individual farm households, the development of eco-agricultural systems that incorporate large-scale biogas production and animal farming is becoming a greater priority of the government", as reflected in the adoption in 2003 of a National Rural Biogas Construction Plan.[26]


Regional Organizations

Government Organizations

  • is the main English language portal for the Chinese Government. Many agencies do not yet have English language pages.

China's circulars on bioenergy policy have been co-released by the following agencies:

Government websites (English)

Non-Government Organizations (NGOs)


(source: Climate Change China Info-Net (.gov site))


See books, reports, scientific papers, position papers and websites for additional useful resources.

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