As demand for fuel ethanol continues to grow in the U.S., this week’s top stories out of Japan, Brazil and even Ethiopia point to biofuels becoming more popular globally as well.

Japan may allow US ethanol to meet biofuel mandate

Japan recently filed a report with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Global Agricultural Information Network, noting the government plans to maintain its 500 million liter (132.09 million gallon) crude oil equivalent mandate for biofuels through at least 2022.

The report also states the government of Japan may designate U.S. corn ethanol as an eligible source under the country’s sustainability policy. A decision is expected before the end of the year.

More than 99% of the ethanol used in Japan for fuel and other purposes is imported. The country imported 757 million liters of ethanol for transportation last year, and has only one facility that produces bio-based ethanol for fuel use. That facility has a capacity of 200,000 liters and takes in domestic rice as feedstock.

Learn more at Ethanol Producer Magazine.

Brazilian mills cut sugar production, boost ethanol output

Brazilian mills reduced the amount of cane they use to produce sugar in the first half of August, increasing the use of the raw material for ethanol production as demand and prices for the biofuel improved, according to cane industry group Unica.

Unica said 40% of the plants able to produce both sugar and ethanol had shifted toward the biofuel early this month.

“That is happening due to a more favorable arbitrage toward ethanol. It is normal that mills opt for the product that is giving them better returns,” the group said in an email to Reuters.

Unica said sales of hydrous ethanol, used by flex fuel vehicles popular in Brazil that can operate on gasoline or the biofuel, jumped 14% in the first half of August from the second half of July. Brazil’s fuels market is demanding more of the product after a recent change on taxation increased ethanol’s competitiveness against gasoline at the pumps.

Get more on this story at Reuters.

New ethanol production plant to be constructed in Ethiopia

Ethiopia has partnered with a German company to build an ethanol plant projected to cost $51 million.

The German company, Eugen Schmitt, will own 83% of the plant, while the State will have 17% shareholding in conjunction with three other shareholders.

The first phase of construction is slated to start this year, while the second phase will commence in late 2018.

Once constructed, the plant is estimated to have capacity to produce 60,000 liters of ethanol per day using molasses, a sugar by-product. There are currently two other sugar factories in Ethiopia that produce ethanol from molasses.


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Geoff Hayward

Communications Advisor at Novozymes
Geoff writes about Bioenergy for the Communications team at Novozymes. When he isn’t advocating for an industry that’s changing the world for the better, he can be found on a North Carolina bike path or playing slide guitar.