A Chinese Perspective on Corn-Ethanol Biofuels
Yang, Q. and Chen, G.Q. 2012. Nonrenewable energy cost of corn-ethanol in China. Energy Policy 41: 340-347.
Based upon their analyses, the two researchers determined that "corn-ethanol production requires 0.70 times more nonrenewable energy (NE) production than the energy content of ethanol produced," leading them to conclude that "the goal of NE conservation could not be achieved by corn-ethanol production with the technology conditions prevailing in China." In addition, they say that "NE cost is just one aspect of biofuels production," and that "more questions concerning water crises and cultivated land use have emerged, with the most serious problem of competition for land between corn-ethanol and food," since "food security is an inevitable concern for China with limited land resources compared with a huge population."
In light of these several "facts of life," as one could call them, Yang and Chen say that China's Ministry of Agriculture has "insisted on developing biofuels without competing with grain for land," citing Wei (2008); and they indicate that this policy has "substantially dampened the momentum of corn-ethanol development in China," noting it is clear that the country's central government "ruled out the feasibility for China to use staple food grains for fuel because of the paramount priority of food security."
Chambers, R., Herendeen, R., Joyce, J. and Penner, P. 1979. Gasohol: does it or doesn't it produce positive net energy? Science 206: 790-795.
Wei, Z.A. 2008. Speech on Chinese biomass energy development. 2008 International Proseminar of Chinese Country Biomass Energy. This speech is available at: http://www.caass.org.cn/tabid/155/InfoID/620/frtid/90/Default.aspx.