Currently, bioethanol accounts for just 2% of the energy content in petrol. Next year, however, this will increase to 4.4%, and by 2010 the EU requires that the proportion reach 5.75%. (Vehicle engines can burn petrol with bioethanol content of up to 10%, or 15% in volume terms, without any technical modifications.) In order to achieve this goal, Hungary will have to produce an annual 200,000 tons of bioethanol, which would require 3 million tons of maize. Zoltán Gőgös, undersecretary at the Ministry, says farmers would have to grow no more maize than they already do to meet this requirement. In fact, the government intends to boost production of bioethanol to at least 800,000 tons by 2010, exporting the 600,000 tons that exceed Hungary’s needs.
The government aims to get Ft 100 billion in EU funding during the 2007-2013 budgetary period and to use a further Ft 20 billion in central budget money to support bioethanol projects. Already, investors, both foreign and Hungarian, have expressed interest in building capacity to produce 1.5 million tons of bioethanol. Gőgös said Hungarian farmers could grow enough maize even to produce this amount of bioethanol.
Hungary’s maize harvest is expected to reach 8 million tons in 2006, down from 9 million tons in 2005.