Biodiesel producers in Brazil cheered the government’s proposal to gradually increase the amount of biodiesel in diesel fuel to 20 percent in big cities by 2015.

Sergio Beltrao, head of the Brazilian Biodiesel Union, told a press conference that their producers’ plants would be able to provide the new biofuel as of 2010, which would mean an increase of 2,500 million liters.

The union is an association of producers and researchers of biofuels.

The increase in the 20-percent mixture in cities that suffer from pollution would help the government to reduce diesel sulfur levels, Beltrao said.

He remarked that the biofuel sector was able to produce 5,000 million liters per year, but half of the installed capacity was idle for lack of demand.

The union expected that, besides big cities, 10 percent of biodiesel would be added to diesel across Brazil from 2015. To implement these proposals would require changes in the sector’s regulatory framework, he added.

The Brazilian government announced in October that as of January 2010, the diesel fuel vehicles in the country would be required to run on a 5-percent biodiesel blend.

If so, Brazil will surpass the United States and France to become the second largest biodiesel producer after Germany.

Brazil started its large-scale biodiesel production in 2003, after President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva started his first presidential term.

This has enabled an expansion of the Brazilian biodiesel market, with 43 plants in operation today and production capacity currently at 3.6 million liters per year.

In 2009, Brazil’s total biodiesel production was expected to reach 1,800 million liters, according to the Ministry of Mines and Energy, which has predicted that the South American country would produce between 2,400 and 2,600 million liters of biofuel by 2010.