China’s 2006 exports of ethanol, made largely from corn or cassava, are set to exceed 500,000 tons. Some traders even say 900,000 tons is closer to the mark. Most of the ethanol exports – last year China had virtually none – end up in the U.S.
But with ethanol plants popping up across the U.S., few people are convinced that China can maintain a competitive edge, especially if it has to keep importing cassava, the International Herald Tribune reports.
China is the world’s third-largest ethanol producer, behind Brazil and the U.S., but in the past has used most of its output domestically.
One Chinese agency said the country, which doesn’t want to be dependent on other countries for its energy needs, could raise national consumption of ethanol as fuel to six million tons by 2020.
In a sign of rising fuel ethanol production, one cassava trader said China’s cassava imports were heading toward 4.4 million tons in 2006, up about 36 percent from a year earlier.