BEIJING (Reuters) - The world’s top industrial enzymes producer, Novozymes A/S, said on Friday that it expects China to launch its first commercial cellulosic ethanol facility by 2013.
The Denmark-based company signed an agreement to provide enzymes for a demonstration plant in China that will produce 3 million gallons of ethanol from corn stalks by the third quarter of 2011, the company said at a briefing in Beijing.
Cellulosic ethanol is part of a worldwide move toward “second generation” biofuel using agricultural and forest waste as feedstocks, but enzymes are required to break cellulose down into sugars, which are converted into ethanol.
China banned all new facilities from using crops as a feedstock in 2007 amid food security concerns, and second-generation biofuels processed from waste or inedible crops like jatropha are now regarded as the best option.
“We will look upon this (commercial facility) in two to three years,” said Michael Fredskov Christiansen, president of Novozymes’ China operations.
In February, Novozymes announced a new enzyme capable of breaking down plant waste. It said biofuel made using the new process would be competitive with ordinary gasoline and cost less than $2 per gallon.
China, the third-largest ethanol producer after the United States and Brazil, aims to bring the share of renewable energy to 15 percent of total consumption by 2020, up from 8.3 percent in 2009.
It also targets a reduction in carbon intensity, or the amount of carbon produced per unit of GDP, of between 40 and 45 percent by 2020 compared with 2005.
“Cellulosic ethanol ... is definitely in the framework of the new target and we expect it to cover 1 or maybe 2 percent of the renewable part of China’s energy mix,” said Christiansen.
He cited a survey as saying that China produced between 600
million and 800 million tonnes of agricultural waste every year, only a small amount of which was recycled and used to generate power.
China plans to blend 10 million tonnes of ethanol into gasoline by 2020, but its current annual production rate is about 1.35 million tonnes, mostly using corn and wheat as feedstocks.
Tianguan Group, a local ethanol producer, was building a 10,000-tonnne-per-year cellulosic ethanol facility, which could go into commercial production in three to five years, its president told Reuters in March. Tianguan uses its own enzyme to convert cellulose to sugar.