French Grain, Beet Areas for Ethanol Seen Surging
Author: David Brough
Alain Jeanroy, director general of the Federation of Sugar Beet Growers (CGB), estimated that the beet area allocated for ethanol production in France would rise to 70,000-80,000 hectares by 2008 from some 10,000 hectares now.
He told Reuters in an interview this week that the cereals area allocated for ethanol production in France would rise much more -- to some 300,000 hectares by 2008 from around 10,000 now.
The CGB represents about 90 percent of French sugar beet growers.
French Farm Minister Dominique Bussereau said last week the government's new biofuel output targets would propel France to be Europe's leading producer by 2010.
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has called for fuels to contain 5.75 percent of biofuel by 2008, a figure rising to seven percent by 2010 and 10 percent by 2015 in a programme to boost biofuel use at a time of soaring oil prices.
Patrick du Genestoux, managing director of Paris sugar consultancy Concilium, forecast that the beet area for ethanol in France would rise to some 50,000 hectares by 2008 from some 11,000 now.
"Most of the increase in ethanol production in France will be derived from cereals, and I think there will be increased imports of ethanol," he said on Thursday, noting the process to manufacture ethanol from cereals was simpler than from sugar beet.
Jeanroy and Genestoux gave no figures for ethanol production, but France is a marginal producer, lagging far behind the world's top producer Brazil where cane sugar is used to make ethanol.
In France, biodiesel is the main type of biofuel produced, largely made from rapeseed, then blended with diesel.
Ethanol is made from biomass such as sugar beet or cereals for blending with conventional fuel.
The government grants tax rebates on fixed biofuel quotas to make biofuels more competitive with conventional fuels.