» 10/10/2007, 00.00
World grain supply not enough to produce bio fuels
The use of cereals and palm oil in producing bio fuels is forcing a price hike on basic foods. Non edible plants now being tested. Meanwhile Beijing sets out plans for renewable energy sources, even if in the short term more expensive than coal.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – China wants to double its use of renewable energy by 2020, such as hydro energy, wind power and solar energy as well as biofuels by increasing their extraction from cereals and vegetable oils. But the high costs are presenting obstacles.
After an initial enthusiasm the world has become aware that it is not capable of producing sufficient grain to feed its population and produce biofuels. The boom in biofuels in recent years has led to sharp rice in world grain prices, with widespread grave social repercussions. David Jackson, of Lmc International Ltd London, estimates that by 2015 a further 100 million hectares of crop production (half the size of Indonesia) will be needed to meet just 5% of vehicle consumption. But to obtain this, entire forests would be decimated.
Sugar cane produces more ethanol, but it requires a lot of water in a world suffering from drought. The use of palm oil to produce fuel has resulted in two thirds price hike in recent years, bringing it to 735 dollars a tonne, which crude oil costs 593 dollars per tonne. Thus many plantation projects particularly in Asian have been abandoned.
Now there are plans to use non edible oil plants in the production of biofuels such as jatropha, the leaves seeds and fruit of which are toxic. The British company D1 Oils plc has planted 175 thousand hectares of Jatropha in Africa as well as in India and China.
Beijing has also set out on the arduous journey of renewable energy sources. “So far there is not profit” – explains Zhou Fengqi, Chief of China’s renewable energy programme – but there is “the will to become a leader in clean energy in the future”. This explains why projects are financed by leading companies in the energy sector. In order to extract methane gas from the coal mines and biofuels from the vegetable plantations, over the next few years China Power, the leading electricity supplier will invest 4 billion dollars and the petrol giant PetroChina will spend 10 billion Yuan.
Yet coal, although a major pollutant remains the cheapest of all fuels and covers over 80% of the countries energy demand. China Resources Power will invest between 3 and 5 million Yuan by 2010 in wind power, but exploiting wind power costs three times more than a coal station.
From garbage and waste to ‘clean’ fuel
China wants ‘clean’ energy to reduce the huge economic and environmental costs of development. This is why it is trying to get methane from waste in Shaanxi and building an ‘Eco-City’ near Shanghai. But for experts industrial plants are the real problem. China needs to focus more on the environment than on output.
Economy must grow or the system breaks down
Oil imports must rise to quench the country's energy thirst. Coal has already done enough damage to people and environment.
Alternative energy and nuclear in agreements between Beijing and Astana
Kazakhstan will supply uranium tablets to Chinese nuclear companies. The trade volume will reach 40 billion dollars by 2015. Concerns about inflation in the dollar, some agreements made with direct exchange between the yuan and tenge (Kazakh currency).
Beijing shuts down Hebei steel mills
The province is the world’s largest steel producer with 620 million tonnes a year. However, pollution and excessive energy use have set off alarm bells in the central government, which switched off supplies.
90% of cities have polluted underground water
The waterbeds supply 70% of drinking water and 40% for agricultural irrigation. Official sources say the situation will get worse in the absence of radical intervention to make maximise resources.
Pope: together with the faithful in China on 24 May to celebrate Our Lady of Sheshan
During the Regina Caeli, Pope Francis speaks about the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, instituted by Benedict XVI. Chinese Catholics must make a “personal contribution to communion among believers and to harmony in the whole society." AsiaNews Symposium on the Church in China is set for this week. Francis appeals for peace in the Central African Republic, and for loving “one another following the example of the Lord”. For him, “Sometimes conflicts, pride, envy, and divisions leave a blotch on the beautiful face of the Church.” Five new cardinals will be named, including a bishop from Laos.
May 24, 2017: 'China, the Cross is Red', AsiaNews Symposium
The event will be held to mark the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China. A title with many meanings: the Cross is red from the blood of the martyrs; From attempts to suffocate the faith with state control; Bceause of the contribution of hope that Christianity gives to a population tired of materialism and consumerism that is seeking new moral criteria. The theme is also about the great and unexpected religious rebirth in the country. Guests to include: Card. Pietro Parolin, Msgr. Savio Hon, the sociologist of religions Richard Madsen, the testimonies of Chinese priests and laity.
18/05/2017 ASIA - VATICAN
24/05/2017 CHINA- VATICAN
AsiaNews IS ALSO A MONTHLY!
AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.