Energy / Climate Change

December 23, 2003


Shinjo City Tests Bioethanol Fuel in Official Cars

Keywords: Climate Change Local government Policy / Systems Renewable Energy Transportation / Mobility University / Research institute 

Shinjo City in Yamagata Prefecture, an agricultural area located in northeastern Japan, is developing a project utilizing biomass technology, with the aim of establishing a sustainable, recycling-based community. As part of the project, on August 22, 2003, the city started to run official cars on fuel blended with bioethanol, alcohol produced by fermentation of plants.

Ethanol-blended gasoline emits less carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide than regular gasoline, and is seen as one way to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases that cause global warming. The government intends to have all cars in Japan running on gasoline with 10 percent ethanol content by 2010 under its "E10 Concept" scheme. Since legislation has just been passed for 3-percent ethanol-blended fuel, the city plans to implement a field test using the biofuel in official vehicles.

Shinjo City has been working on various projects in collaboration with citizens, industry and universities. For instance, with technological support by the Waseda University Shinjo Biomass Center, which opened in September 2002, the city is developing a new method to make alcohol fuel by utilizing compost such as food refuse as a fertilizer to grow sorghum (a kind of sugarcane with high sugar content) and pressing it to make alcohol fuel.

Bioethanol-related programs are being conducted in various parts of the country. But one problem is higher costs due to double taxation under the current system, under which a tax is imposed on gasoline both before and after it is blended with ethanol. Expanded use of bioethanol will therefore require revisions to the taxation system.

Posted: 2003/12/23 10:56:16 AM
Japanese version