Thailand ethanol production, consumption expected to increase

By Erin Voegele | August 10, 2015

An annual biofuels report recently filed with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Global Agricultural Information Network provides an overview of Thailand’s ethanol industry, reporting production of fuel ethanol is expected to grow this year and in 2016.

According to the report, Thailand currently has a goal in place that targets the use of 9 million liters (2.38 million gallons) of ethanol per day by 2021, along with 7.2 million liters per day of biodiesel. During the first four months of this year, ethanol consumption averaged approximately 3.5 million liters per day, up from 3.2 million liters per day last year.

The report indicates the government of Thailand currently promotes the use of E20 and E85 blends through price incentives. Those subsidies, paid by the State Oil Fund, make those blends 20 to 40 percent cheaper than E10. The government also supports the manufacture of vehicles that are compatible with E20 and E85 blends.

Thailand produced approximately 1.06 billion liters of fuel ethanol last year. Production is expected to increase to 1.27 billion liters this year and 1.4 billion liters next year. Fuel ethanol consumption reached approximately 1.05 billion liters last year, and is expected to increase to 1.27 billion liters this year and 1.4 billion liters in 2016.

The country currently has 21 ethanol refineries, with a combined nameplate capacity of 4.8 million liters per day, up from 21 facilities with a combined capacity of 4.4 million liters per day last year. Capacity utilization is expected to reach 73 percent this year, up from 68 percent last year. Moving into 2016, Thailand is expected to have 22 ethanol plants with a combined capacity of 5.2 million liters per day. Capacity utilization in 2016 is expected to reach 75 percent.

Molasses is currently the most widely used ethanol feedstock, with 2.9 million metric tons going to ethanol production last year. That volume is expected to increase to 3.55 million metric tons this year and 3.96 million metric tons next year. Cassava is the second most common ethanol feedstock in Thailand, with 1.86 million tons consumed last year. This year, Cassava feedstock use is expected to fall to 970,000 metric tons, growing to 1.16 million metric tons in 2016. An estimated 882,000 metric tons of sugarcane went to ethanol production in Thailand last year, increasing to 933,000 metric tons this year and 1 million metric tons next year. Rice is also expected to be used as an ethanol feedstock this year and next year, with an estimated 500,000 tons of consumption in 2015 and 2016.

The ethanol blend rate in Thailand was approximately 12.3 percent last year. The blend rate is expected to increase to 14.4 percent this year and 15.1 percent next year. Thailand is not expected to import or export any fuel ethanol this year or in 2016.

The report also addresses Thailand’s biodiesel industry. According to the GAIN report, Thailand produced 1.17 billion liters of biodiesel last year. Production is expected to increase to 1.21 billion liters this year and 1.25 billion liters next year. The country consumed 1.18 billion liters of biodiesel last year, increasing to 1.2 billion liters this year and 1.22 billion liters next year. Thailand is not expected to import or export any biodiesel this year or next year.

Thailand currently has 10 biodiesel plant, with that number expected to be maintained next year. Nameplate capacity is expected to increase slightly, from 1.45 billion liters last year to 1.63 billion liters this year and next year. Capacity utilization is also expected to increase, from 60.7 percent in 2014, to 74.2 percent this year and 76.7 percent in 2016. Refined bleached deodorized palm oil and crude palm is currently the primary biodiesel feedstock in Thailand, followed by palm searin, and free fatty acids of palm oil.