South East Asia expanding biodiesel feedstock production

While rapeseed/canola continues to be the main biodiesel feedstock in Europe, and soy dominates U.S. biodiesel production, a host of other plants are moving biodiesel forward in other parts of the world. In the Philippines, the Biofuel Act is about to pass into law mandating the immediate use of one percent biodiesel, increasing to two percent after two years. The numbers seem small but it has prompted a massive in-surge of investment in biodiesel production capacity with Chemrez Technologies planning to start construction of their third biodiesel processing plant shortly. The third plant, which cost more than P2 billion (US$40 million) and can produce 240,000 tons of biodiesel annually, is designed to meet the surge in demand once the second phase of the Biofuel Act comes into effect.

The Philippines are heavily promoting the Jatropha Curcas plant as their preferred biodiesel feedstock. Jatropha is also gaining popularity in Indonesia with a Dutch expert claiming that Indonesia may be the first country in the world to commercially use biodiesel produced from jatropha. Professor H.J. Heeres, of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands says that more then 25 million hectares (62 million acres) of land could be suitable for jatropha in Indonesia. Officials in charge of biofuel development in Indonesia have said that the government plans to produce just over 15,000 tonnes of biofuels from jatropha by the end of 2007.

Jatropha, which is being planted in India and western China as well, is seen as more environmentally friendly and sustainable than palm oil, but at least for the time being, the bulk of Indonesia's biodiesel production will come from palm oil. Biodiesel produced from palm oil is already being exported overseas from Malaysia and biodiesel export dollars are expected to have a big impact on the Malaysian economy. The Malaysian government has already granted around 75 licenses to produce the biodiesel and five production plants are already in operation or in the process of getting off the ground. The Malaysian Palm Oil Board, the governing body for the palm oil industry, itself is building three biodiesel plants. Biodiesel is exported from Malaysia to Germany, the U.S. and other European countries.

[Source: ABS-CBN]

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