Japan has changed its biofuel policy to allow imports of bio-ethyl tert-butyl ether (ETBE) produced from US corn-based ethanol, US ethanol industry groups said last week in a joint statement, welcoming the news.

Under its sustainability policy, adopted in 2010, Japan allowed only imports of sugarcane-based ethanol and the production of ETBE, an ethanol-based oxygenate, from sugarcane ethanol. An update of the policy raises the carbon intensity reduction requirements of ethanol used as ETBE feedstock to 55% from 50%, and at the same time recognises that US ethanol can fulfill that requirement.

The change potentially creates an annual market for 95.5 million gallons (361.5 million litres) of ethanol from the US as it will allow US ethanol to meet up to 44% of the total ethanol demand for ETBE production, which is estimated at 217 million gallons.

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