Development of Biofuels in China: Progress, Government Policies and Future Prospects

  • Zhang Hongzhou
Keywords: Biofuels, Energy Security, Food Security, Environmental Pollution, Three Rural Issues


China is the largest energy consumer in the world, but has limited energy resources. Energy security is thus a primary concern for China. Over reliance on the consumption of fossil energy has resulted in severe environmental pollution, which puts pressure on the government to adjust its energy mix. To strengthen its energy supply and prevent further environmental degradation, China has been committed to developing renewable energies, such as biofuels. This article provides a comprehensive assessment of the development of biofuels, rural household biogas, and bioethanol, in particular. It also examines related government policies and the future prospects of the biofuel sector. The analysis shows that remarkable achievements have been made in the development of biogas in rural areas and in bioethanol at the industrial level. This progress is largely credited to government's strong support for the biofuel sectors. Nonetheless, although ongoing energy insecurity and environmental pollution continues to motivate the central government to support the development of biofuels, widening domestic food supply and demand gap, changes in rural life and agricultural industrialization constrain the further expansion of rural household biogas and cereal-based bioethanol. This article suggests that while China urgently needs to find alternative feedstock for the existing rural household biogas digesters and bioethanol plants, centralized biogas and non-cereal-based bioethanol projects should be prioritized for future development.