Asia sees mixed fortunes for mixed fuels

Low-emission biofuels are enjoying unprecedented popularity in Thailand, but across the ocean Japan has delayed the introduction of cars that can use them over fears that the supply will dry up.

Though Japan is a leading advocate of reducing carbon emissions, plans to introduce cars that will run on environmentally-friendly bioethanol have been put back, as the country is concerned it will not be able to supply the necessary quantity of the fuel internally and is unwilling to become dependent on imports.

The Japanese Environment Ministry had hoped to see ethanol-blended petrol available at the pumps by April this year and all retail petrol replaced by the 3% ethanol blend by 2012.

But the eco-ambitions look to be thwarted by caution over the future risk to the economy.

Meanwhile, Thailand has joined the ranks of developing countries to take to bio-ethanol like a fish to water.

Last Friday energy minister Viset Choopiban announced that blended fuel now accounts for a quarter of the nation’s petrol consumption, and sales have rocketed since January, increasing five-fold.

By Sam Bond

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