US vows to supply green-fuel-laggard Japan with bioethanol

Oct 4, 2022, 7:15 AM | Updated: 7:19 pm

Aaron Forsberg, minister for economic affairs from the U.S. Embassy, speaks at a conference on bioe...

Aaron Forsberg, minister for economic affairs from the U.S. Embassy, speaks at a conference on bioethanol in Tokyo Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. U.S. officials were wooing Japan Wednesday on the benefits of bioethanol, a kind of green fuel that Japan lags far behind in adapting, compared to the rest of the world. (AP Photo/Yuri Kageyama)

(AP Photo/Yuri Kageyama)

TOKYO (AP) — U.S. officials are touting bioethanol in Japan, which trails other nations on using the green fuel made from corn and other crops.

The U.S. is a top grower of corn, and an embassy official said the U.S. would be “a reliable supplier” of bioethanol.

“American ethanol is a powerful tool for Japan to address climate change, support consumers facing high prices and strengthen energy security,” Aaron Forsberg, minister for economic affairs at the U.S. Embassy, said at a conference center in Tokyo.

Cooperation on biofuel between the U.S. and Japan is part of a larger partnership between President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in defense, technology and climate change.

A workshop Wednesday in Tokyo provided an opportunity for Japanese government, academics and industry representatives to learn more about bioethanol from American experts.

Bioethanol can be fuel for vehicles and planes and offers a cleaner alternative to petroleum.

Compared to countries like the U.S and Brazil, where bioethanol is commonly used, Japan is playing catch-up. The need for alternative fuels has grown more pressing with the war in Ukraine and worries about rising oil prices and climate change.

Japan imports almost all its oil, as well as its bioethanol. Japan has denounced the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but has yet to eliminate its Russian oil imports, as it has pledged.

“Japan has set an important goal to be carbon neutral by 2050,” Yuki Sadamitsu, director-general of the Natural Resources and Fuel Department at Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, told the workshop.

Boosting the use of bioethanol will be crucial in realizing that goal, Sadamitsu added.

Forsberg noted Japan was among the lowest in the world in its rate of blending ethanol with gasoline at about 1.7%, and urged Japan to boost that to 3%, noting there was “ample room to grow.”

The U.S. can show how to make the blend while maintaining vehicle compatibility and discuss costs and benefits, as well as providing a steady supply, he said.

“As Japan updates its transport biofuel policy for the next several years, we look forward to sharing our experience of expanding the use of biofuels,” said Forsberg.


Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

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US vows to supply green-fuel-laggard Japan with bioethanol