Japan proposes new biofuel standards, update of ethanol CI scores

By Erin Voegele | January 09, 2023

The government of Japan is inviting comments on proposed biofuel standards for fiscal years 2023 through 2027. The proposal also includes updated carbon intensity (CI) values for both U.S. corn-based ethanol and Brazilian sugarcane-based ethanol, according to a report filed with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Global Agricultural Information Network on Jan. 3.

Japan’s current biofuel target for transportation is set to expire on March 31, 2023. In late December, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) proposed an update that was developed following four expert committee meetings held during the second half of 2022, according to the report

METI is proposing to maintain the annual target volume for transport biofuels at 500 million liters (132.09 million gallons) crude oil equivalent for Japan's fiscal years 2023-2027. The report indicates that consumption of next generation biobased ethanol and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) would count towards that target. METI also aims to set an annual target volume for next generation ethanol at 10 million liters of crude oil equivalent starting in fiscal year 2028.

Under the proposal, METI plans to keep the current greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions target at 55 relative to gasoline until the ministry updates the default CI value of gasoline. That update is expected to take place during fiscal year 2023. Following that update, the METI plans to increase the GHG reduction target for transport biofuels to 60 percent of the gasoline GHG value, according to the report.

In addition, METI is proposing to update the default CI values for ethanol to 37.1 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per megajoule (gCO2e/MJ) for U.S. corn-based ethanol and to 28.56 gCO2e/MJ for Brazilian sugarcane-based ethanol. The values are currently set at 43.15 gCO2e/MJ and 33.61 gCO2e/MJ, respectively.

METI is accepting comments on the proposal through Jan. 17. According to the report, comments must be submitted in Japanese. METI will consider the comments and issue an updated proposal, which will also be subject to a public comment period.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded from the USDA FAS GAIN website.