The Thai government is planning to undertake an aggressive campaign to double the amount of ethanol used in motor fuels by 2011.

Energy Minister Wannarat Channukul says the aim is to increase ethanol use to 528,000 gallons (2 million L) a day this year, from the present average of 396,000 gallons (1.5 million L). He also aims to boost daily usages to 793,000 gallons (3 million L) in 2011.

“We will try our best to increase ethanol content in (gasoline) in order to reach the goal, either through asking for cooperation or through enforcement,” Wannarat tells the Bangkok Post.

Total gasoline consumption, including gasohol, now averages 5.3 million-5.8 million gallons (20 million-22 million L) a day.

Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency Director General Krairit Nilkuha tells the newspaper his department will focus its promotions on E20 fuel, as sales of E20-compatible vehicles have been rising rapidly.

Krairit says the DEDE also will draw up incentives for auto makers to invest in producing E85-compatible vehicles in Thailand.

“More new-car models, all of which will be compatible with E20, will be entering the market, and that will cause E20 demand to rise too,” he says. “We will talk with car assemblers in Thailand to prepare for flex-fuel vehicle investment here.”

Only two auto makers, Ford Motor Co. and Volvo Car Corp., currently offer imported FFV models that run on E85 in the Thai market.

The DEDE also will finalize the level of subsidies from the state oil fund to promote E85 and tax holidays for FFV production.

However, further details of subsidy programs would need to be discussed later in the year, Krairit says.

More than 300,000 E20-compatible vehicles reportedly have been sold in Thailand since 2006, and Refiner Bangchak Petroleum plc this year plans to increase the number of E20 pumps in the country to 300 from 130.

“We have to prepare gasohol E20 supplies to serve the rise in demand from now on.”

“We expect to see new E20 cars that will boost demand of E20 to 3.7 million L (977,000 gallons) a month,” Bangchak President Anusorn Sangnimnuan is quoted as saying. “The trend is quite clear.”

Anusorn tells the newspapers the government should phase out regular gasoline in the next 12 months and replace it with E20, keeping only premium gasoline available on the market.