China sets apart 98,840 acres for bio-fuel plantations

Mumbai: China will set apart 98,840 acres in the southwest for growing plants that can be used to produce up to 60,000 tonnes of diesel per annum.

The state forestry administration has signed the agreement with China National Petroleum Corporation, the country's largest oil and natural gas producer, to jointly develop the farm as part of China's search for alternative energies.

The agreement is a key step for China to explore biological resources, and will help reduce the country's heavy reliance on coal and other fossil fuels, Jia Zhibang, director of the administration, said.

While bio-diesel production is a partial solution to fuel shortages, it is also a source of efficient and environment-friendly fuel. The Chinese government proposes to encourage the development of renewable energies such as wind power, solar energy and biological fuels during its 11th five-year plan period (2006-2010).

While the farm, to be planted this year, is located in the southwestern provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan, Jia said, the Hainan and Guizhou provinces are also ideal locations for growing bio-fuel plants.

China consumed energy equivalent to 2.23-billion tonnes of coal in 2005 against the country's domestic energy output of 2.06 billion tonnes.