The idea behind a small biofuels plant is to allow the biomass waste from Japanese extensive rice crop to be used in a constructive way to try and offset Japan's thirst for automotive fuels (Japan is third, in gasoline fuels consumption behind the US and China, at 15.8 billion gallons per year). Forth if you count the state of California. But back to the ethanol plant, another reason for the ethanol plant is that low profitability in Japan's rice fields due to cheaper imports cutting out their bottom line has forced many farmers into the major cities leaving behind abandoned fields. The Niigata plant hopes to take advantage by planting non-edible rice that has a higher conversion ratio into ethanol to be used in their plant. The Japanese government is also sponsoring two other small (3.3 million gallon per year) ethanol plants to be built in the Northern Japanese island of Hokkaido using the same rice to ethanol concept.
If all works out by 2009, I guess this just might legitimize the term "rice-burner" used so often in the United States.
Below is a beautiful picture of the Western suburbs of Tokyo with Mt. Fuji just visible on the horizon.
Picture courtesy of: http://nilaworld.org/index.php/2007/07/24/japan-bridging-scholarships/
For the original article from Reuters, follow the link below: