On October 18, China's first fuel ethanol project broke ground in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. This project marks a breakthrough in the production of clean oil, using cassava as raw material and producing a yearly output of 400,000 tons of fuel ethanol. It is also a strategic move by COFCO to outline its RMB10 billion energy investment. Thus far, in addition to the raw material production bases in northern and northeastern China, COFCO has also established a new stronghold in southern China which will lay a solid foundation for it to become a leader in China’s biomass energy industry within the next five years.
At the launch of COFCO's new logo, Ning Gaoning announced COFCO's aims to boost harmonious relations between nature and mankind and tap into the new energy market, highlighting the core philosophy of COFCO -"nature shaping us". He also expressed his wish that COFCO could actively participate in national biomass energy strategy as a main executor, and use it as a platform to realize its strategic development.
The cassava fuel ethanol project follows an industrial model which combines agriculture and industry. Farmer grow cassava on plots around the factories of the enterprise with which they have ethanol production contracts. The enterprise in turn provides advanced technologies and equipments to improve yields and reduce the cost of cassava slices. Using this model, a 100,000-ton cassava fuel ethanol enterprise can create jobs for 300 workers and 11,362 farmers. This means that approximately 34,000 people – calculated based on the average family structure (a couple, two children and two seniors) – can be supported by a single plant. In comparison to other township enterprises, this industrial model is conducive to the establishment of small towns, high quality of life and improved health-care and education.
In addition to this, cassava is very cheap. The production of every ton of fuel ethanol would require about 3.3 tons of maize worth RMB 2,970 at RMB 900 per ton or 17 tons of sugar beets worth RMB 2,720 at RMB 160 per ton. Cassava, on the other hand, would only take 7 tons at RMB 2,450 (or RMB 350 per ton).
In October this year, COFCO (Guangxi) Biomass Energy Co., Ltd. was chosen over all the other 22 candidates during the qualification evaluation process and was recommended by the experts as the investor in the first stage cassava fuel ethanol project in Guangxi.