Wednesday, August 29, 2007

[PBN] Viet Nam: Ethanol from Cassava


Ethanol offers clean energy source


The first plant to produce ethanol fuel from biomass in Viet Nam is
expected to come on line in 2008. Petrosetco deputy director Ho Sy Long
spoke to Dai Doan Ket (Great Unity) newspaper about the project.

What are the benefits of producing ethanol fuel?

As Viet Nam depends highly on imported petrol, production research on
biological ethanol fuel is a top priority.

Every year, Viet Nam has to import an average of 13 million tonnes of
petrol, 3 million of which are used for social and economic development.
We need 300,000 tonnes of ethanol to meet the demand of a 10 per cent
ethanol mix into the number above. According to international
scientists' statistics, with the existing sources of petroleum and the
human race's current usage, we will face a shortage of this resource in
the next 50 years.

The investment into ethanol production is a breakthrough in setting up a
new energy source in Viet Nam. It will be used not only as a partial
replacement of petroleum energy, but also as a clean and
environment-friendly energy source. ethanol's CO2 emissions can be
reduced 50 per cent more than normal petrol, helping reduce pollution
caused by industry and transportation.

With the country's economic growth rate at more than 8 per cent a year,
the Viet Nam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) cannot meet the domestic
demand for petrol. Knowing this, PetroVietnam decided to invest in
increasing the reserve, as well as start research into producing a
biological fuel. At the moment, the Government has encouraged
enterprises to invest in this sector, and the Ministry of Industry and
Trade was assigned to compile regulations and policies for investors.

Under the agreement signed with Japan's Itochu Group, when will Viet Nam
start producing ethanol?

For the past 10 years, Petrosetco has worked with Itochu to supply a
large amount of sliced cassava from Viet Nam to China and South Korea
for ethanol production. We then realised that we could not continue to
export this material only to then import the products made from it.

With the 1.2 million tonnes of cassava exported every year, we can
produce at least 400 million litres of ethanol, which meets our market's
current demand.

After thorough research on Viet Nam's market, PetroVietnam has assigned
us, Petrosetco, to a joint venture with Itochu to build a factory with
an ethanol capacity of 100 million litres a year, 99.8 per cent of which
will come from sliced cassava. Such capacity meets only one third of the
current demand; however, in the near future we will build an additional
three factories. These factories will utilise materials from cassava,
sugarcane, corn, and especially rice, which will become the main
resource in future ethanol production.

We are researching technical and economic foundations, as well as
selecting contractors who have the experience and ability to work with
advanced technologies to produce qualified products and ensure
environment protection.

The first factory is expected to open in the third quarter of 2009.

At first, ethanol will only be supplied in the southern market, though
Petrosetco will continue researching markets in the north and central. — VNS

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