NEA Launching Pilot Projects to Propel China’s Biodiesel Production and Consumption

    China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) has detailed its plans to roll out a series of pilot projects. According to Reuters, these projects promote the production and consumption of biodiesel. This initiative is part of the country’s long-standing strategy of positioning itself as a leading force in sustainable energy. With these projects, it hopes to close the gap with other major economies. 

    The NEA’s plan calls on regional authorities to execute demonstration projects in different areas of the biodiesel industry. Local governments are also urged to extend financial support to help ensure the projects meet the set deadlines and are operationalised timely. This shows the country’s commitment to hitting the targeted goals and successfully implementing the initiatives to boost domestic biodiesel production. 

    Biodiesel is a renewable and biodegradable fuel. It offers the same performance as traditional petroleum-based fuel but at a much lower carbon footprint. It’s typically derived from feedstock such as animal fats, vegetable oils, and used cooking oil (UCO).

    However, despite China’s commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2060, its biodiesel policies are still waning as a priority. As a result, the consumption of biodiesel in China is still significantly low compared to the USA and EU.

    China has been ranked as one of the largest biodiesel producers. Experts are predicting the country will produce around 1.9 billion tons of biofuels by the end of this year. However, despite the high production, its domestic consumption of biodiesel accounts for only 40%, according to data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The data underscores a potential inequality between biodiesel production capacity and domestic consumption. 

    Demand is also decreasing because China still doesn’t require biodiesel blending. In addition, no local government, except Shanghai, offers subsidies for biofuel production. It means that a significant portion of UCO, one of the main feedstocks of biodiesel production, is exported to countries like the USA and the EU, where blending mandates and subsidies are implemented to incentivise the production and use of biodiesel. 

    The pilot projects also aim to expand “the application scenarios of biodiesel.” The NEA is also committed to creating a regulated pathway for the country to help boost the use of green liquid fuels. In addition, it also includes plans for streamlining UCO feedstock supply chains and fuel distribution while also promoting biodiesel adoption through a voluntary certified emissions reduction program. This is because UCO has the potential to curb carbon emissions by around 83%. Even though UCO-derived biodiesel has lower energy content than traditional petroleum-based diesel, resulting in slightly reduced mileage per gallon of fuel, the environment of UCO biodiesel outweighs this drawback. 

    However, NEA declined to provide further elaboration on its plan. 

    Biodiesel can help the transportation industry attain significant decarbonisation. However, the increasing bio-content and the introduction of FAME in biodiesel can spur microbial contamination in the fuel. That leads to expensive operational maintenance or, in the worst case, complete engine failure. To efficiently check microbial contamination in fuel, operators should go for periodic fuel tests with immunoassay kits such as FUELSTAT® by Conidia Bioscience. These on-site tests can be carried out in a short time and accurately without any expert guidance. 

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