Energy / Climate Change

December 15, 2003


Ban Lifted on Sale of Ethanol-Blended Gasoline - Industry Reacts

Keywords: Climate Change Government Manufacturing industry Non-manufacturing industry Renewable Energy Transportation / Mobility 

A ban on the sale of gasoline blended with up to three percent bioenthanol was officially lifted on August 28, 2003. Bioethanol is alcohol made from biomass resources such as sugar cane. The carbon dioxide emitted through bioethanol combustion is counted as equal to the amount taken from the air during the plants' growth process. Because they produce lower carbon dioxide emissions, contributing to global warming prevention, the development and practical application of such biofuels are being pursued.

The Petroleum Association of Japan, however, points out the following supply-side problems:
1. The annual volume of ethanol transactions worldwide amounts toapproximately one million kiloliters. Brazil is the only ethanol exporter in the world.
2. Because it is derived from plants, the production volume and price of bioethanol may fluctuate due to weather and sugar price trends.
3. The cost of importing ethanol to Japan is high-30 to 50 yen per liter (U.S. $0.33 to 0.55). The caloric content of ethanol is about 60 percent that of gasoline, making these costs even higher in terms of energy equivalence.
4. It is uncertain whether imported bioethanol can be regarded as emitting zero CO2 (carbon neutral).

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers' Association (JAMA) has also expressed concerns over the introduction of bioethanol, such as the safety of using the fuel in existing cars, the development cost of new biofuel vehicles and lead time for their popularization. JAMA has requested the government to clarify the need for ethanol-blended gasoline in context of the nation's environmental and energy policies.

Posted: 2003/12/15 02:22:36 PM
Japanese version