RI has potential to become world's biggest ethanol producer

Jakarta (Antara News) - Indonesia has potential to become the biggest ethanol producer in the world because it has an abundance of raw material and vast lands for producing the commodity, an industry executive said.
"The country`s potential as ethyl alcohol producer is very big but its recent production is still below Brazil`s, China`s or India`s," Agus Purnomo, chairman of the National Methylated Spirit and Ethy Alcohol Association (Asendo) said here on Monday,
Speaking after the signing of a memorandum of understanding between agroindustry and PT Rajawali Nusantara Indonesia (RNI) Group, the Situbondo administration and boarding school Salafiyah Syafiiyah on the use and processing jatropha oil, he said Indonesia produces 170 million liters of ethyl alcohol per year.
Sugar mills under the company in Yogyakarta and Cirebon alone produce 15 million liters per year.
With its availability of huge raw materials and vast lands, he said, Indonesia could produce the commodity.
"Moreover, the country can use or sell to foreign markets," Agus who also president director of PT PG Rajawali I, said.
He also said his association had met some economic ministers to discuss the matter and waited for the government`s political will for making a regulation on its trade.
Ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol, is a flammable, colorless chemical compound, one of the alcohols that is most often found in alcoholic beverages. In common parlance, it is often referred to simply as alcohol.
The largest single use of ethanol is as a motor fuel and fuel additive. The largest national fuel ethanol industries exist in Brazil and the United States. The Brazilian ethanol industry is based on sugarcane; as of 2004, Brazil produces 14 billion liters annually, enough to replace about 40% of its gasoline demand. Most new cars sold in Brazil are flexible-fuel vehicles that can run on ethanol, gasoline, or any blend of the two.
Indonesia is a net importer of sugar. In 2004, it produced more 2 million tons of sugar while its domesctic demand reached 3.4 million tons annually.
Gasohol is the nickname of ethanol which is most commonly blended with gasoline.
Thailand, India, China and Japan have now launched their national gasohol policies. Thailand started blending 10% ethanol for its ULG95 in 1985; now there are more than 4000 stations serving E10. The blending of 10% ethanol into gasoline will be mandated by the end of 2006 with the import ban on MTBE.
It is expected that once the production of ethanol from cassava and sugar cane- molasses can be ramped up, a higher blending ratio like E20 or E85 or even Flexible Fuel Vehicle will be introduced to Thailand.(*)
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