Zhengzhou, China Accelerates Big Plans for Biodiesel Sector

The municipal government of Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, has been creating a roadmap for the development of the local biodiesel sector, setting guidelines, goals and policies in a move to regulate the market. In early April of this year, the government issued a formal plan for accelerating its development.

The plan is based on the creation of diesel fuels from left over cooking oil, vegetable oil and animal fats. Five producers are in operation with a combined annual capacity of 115,000 metric tons. Henan Runheng Bio-Energy leads with an annual capacity of 60,000 metric tons, followed by Zhengzhou Qiaolian Bio-Energy at 50,000 metric tons annually. However, Zhengzhou is building a production line that will add another 300,000 metric tons of capacity.

The formal document points to several advantages for development of the sector. By 2020, renewable energy is expected to make up 15 percent of China’s total annual energy usage, with 2 million metric tons from biodiesel. In 2010, Zhengzhou consumed 2.4 million metric tons of petrodiesel, up from 2.1 million metric tons a year earlier. Based on an annual growth pace of 8 to 10 percent, by 2016, annual demand for petrodiesel in the city is expected to reach 3.5 million metric tons, of which 450,000 metric tons can be provided by biodiesel, assuring a market for the fuel.

For resources, preliminary data shows that more than 3 million metric tons of food waste is produced in the city per year. Nearly 100,000 metric tons of this waste is residue from cooking oil that can be converted to 90,000 metric tons of biodiesel. Local grease producers and oil storehouses dispose over 30,000 metric tons of grease per year, yielding roughly another 30,000 metric tons of fuel.

Leveraging its partnership with an institute for energy research in Beijing, Henan University, Henan University of Technology and Zhengzhou Qiaolian Bio-Energy jointly now own two patented technologies. Having passed the necessary approvals, B5 standard biodiesel (a blend of 5 percent biodiesel and 95 percent petrodiesel), has been on the market for two years while a B10 standard (a blend of 10 percent biodiesel and 90 percent petrodiesel) is now on trial. Moreover, biodiesel producers in the city have competitive cost advantages thanks to their state-of-the-art processes.

Constraints on development include lack of detailed plans, short supply of materials and difficult market access.

Industry consultants are advising the city on development plans that include proper documentation development of rules for food waste management, expanding sale channels and promoting the adoption of biodiesel products, and implementing favorable policies to promote the local biodiesel sector. Consultants are also advising on the building of an industrial cluster district for new energies that integrate disposal of food waste, production of biodiesel and manufacturing of biodiesel derivative, and creating energy forests with production processes using oil crops as materials, including shiny-leaved yellowhorn, Chinese pistache, tung-oil tree and cottonseed.