Jason Barton

Professional Information and Energy News

Archive for the ‘Ethanol’ tag

Ethanol Mills in the Amazon?

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It’s true that ethanol mills have the potential to protect forests, particularly in the Amazon region where cane producers are required by law to leave 75-80% of each plot of land forested. The question is whether or not these laws will be observed and enforced.

The Brazilian Forest Code mandates that agricultural producers do not plant crops on 75% of their land, and also leave riparian corridors and other sensitive areas fallow. These laws have traditionally not been enforced, however, as they risk causing production costs to rise, making Brazilian agricultural products uncompetitive.

Yes, ethanol production in the Amazon can create jobs, protect forests, and reduce petroleum consumption, all while localizing energy production for people who would use the fuel there in the Amazon where the cane is grown and the ethanol is milled. It will take vigilance by Brazilian citizens and media to ensure these laws are followed if this expansion of cane and ethanol production is to occur.


Brazil Bill Seeks to Open Amazon to New Ethanol Mills

Tue, Jun 04 13:01 PM EDT

* Investors say ethanol production in Amazon economically viable

* Environmentalists fear pressure on land use

By Reese Ewing

SAO PAULO, June 4 (Reuters) – Brazil plans to vote on a bill in the coming weeks to reopen large areas of the Amazon to sugar cane mills, rekindling fears that ethanol production could accelerate deforestation and create a major marketing challenge for the country’s biofuels industry.

Environmentalists are concerned Congress’ vote could overturn a ban on cane expansion in the region that went into place in 2009 and increase pressure on land use in areas that amount to nearly a third of the broader Amazon region in Brazil.

Meanwhile, the expansion into the environmentally sensitive areas could hurt ethanol producers’ plans to open new export markets, economists say.

Read the entire article here.

Raizen and Iogen to Cooperate for Cellulosic Ethanol Plant in Brazil

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This has been a long time in coming, and is still a ways off, but is an important step towards renewable fuels from non-food feedstocks. Rather than use the sugar that has to date been the feedstock for ethanol production in Brazil, and is otherwise use as food, this process would separate the sugars in the bagasse, or the green leaves of the cane stalks, and ferment those for ethanol. Previously this bagasse was either burned in the field before manual harvest, or more recently harvested mechanically either to be left in the field to maintain soil structure or burned in the refinery to provide electricity.

The ethanol produced from cellulose in processes like this would be a tremendous leap forward in the production of renewable fuels.

Published 18 October 2012

Raízen Group, Iogen Energy to develop cellulosic ethanol facility in Brazil

Brazilian sugarcane ethanol producer Raízen and Canada-based cellulosic ethanol fuel manufacturer Iogen Energy will collaborate together to develop a commercial cellulosic ethanol project in Brazil.

The collaboration will be the first step towards commercialization of cellulosic ethanol biofuels in the country.

Continue reading here.

By Susanne Retka Schill | October 17, 2012

Engineering begins on Iogen-based cellulosic plant in Brazil

Ottawa-based Iogen Energy Corp. announced an initial investment by Raízen Group to develop a commercial cellulosic ethanol project in Brazil. Raízen, a joint venture between Royal Dutch Shell and Cosan SA is the world’s largest producer of sugarcane ethanol. Iogen Energy, a joint venture with Shell and Iogen Corp., operates a demonstration facility in Ottawa where it has produced over 2 million liters (560,000 gallons) of cellulosic ethanol as it refined its process since 2004.

Continue reading this article here.

Cooperation on Biofuels Increasing between Brazil and US

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With the US ending both the tariff on imported ethanol and the tax credit for domestic blenders, cooperation between the US and Brazil on biofuel technology is increasing, as well as efforts to trade renewable fuels on global markets. (See my post at the end of last year)

Yes, we need to be ever vigilant on the possible effects of increased biofuel production on food availability and prices as well as on land use, soil and water quality, and related issues. In my doctoral dissertation, however, I examined these issues in depth and contend that increased production can occur along with protection of ecological health.

The cooperation discussed in the article below can lead to greater efficiency of renewable fuel production, using less land and less water to produce more fuel.

Energy is fundamental to economic growth, and as countries in Latin America and Africa increase their ability to produce renewable energy domestically, they create more jobs and better the lives of their people in ways that will improve economic as well as environmental conditions for generations. These are undoubtedly positive.

It is a fascinating time to be alive.

Insight: U.S. and Brazil – At last, friends on ethanol

A gas station worker fills a car's tank with ethanol in Rio de Janeiro April 30, 2008. Brazil is the world's largest producer and exporter of ethanol. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

By Brian Winter

BRASILIA | Fri Sep 14, 2012 11:21pm IST

(Reuters) – After years at each other’s throats, Brazil and the United States are working together to promote the use of ethanol in a collaboration that could revolutionize global markets and the makeup of the biofuel itself.

The breakthrough came in January when Washington allowed a three-decade-old subsidy for U.S. ethanol producers to expire and ended a steep tariff on foreign biofuels. The tariff, in particular, had poisoned diplomatic relations between the world’s top two ethanol-producing countries for years.

Continue reading this article here.

Brazil’s Agricultural Miracle?

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There’s no doubt that Brazil has flourished in the agricultural realm in the last several decades, and that its abundance of natural resources are only going to amplify its global importance in the years to come, as the world becomes increasingly resource constrained. The two articles below are typical of The Economist: well researched, well written, and optimistic about the abilities of technology and trade liberalization to continue aiding in Brazil’s, and the world’s, prosperity.

There is much truth to these assertions. Brazil is the world’s largest producer or exporter of beef, coffee, sugar, and oranges, and second only to the U.S. in soy. These are important staple products. Sugarcane ethanol seems to becoming only more attractive to foreign importers such as the U.S. and Europe. If either of these further opens its markets to importation of ethanol, it will have profound impacts on Brazil’s agricultural sector and economy as a whole.

With all of this in mind, there are two downsides that are not discussed in these articles, though they must be considered, both for Brazil’s sake and for others if, as the second article suggests, Brazil’s agricultural model is to be exported to places like Africa.

1. Disparity in wealth and lack of jobs, education, and training for lower-skilled workers. During this agricultural boom, Brazil has continued to suffer from vast disparities in wealth. Mechanization has driven millions of rural poor into the cities as jobs are replaced with tractors.

It is inefficient and simply infeasible to consider reversing this technological progression, but measures must be taken, not necessarily for reasons of altruism, but basic economic realities. Those farm laborers who move to cities like Sao Paulo and Salvador put a strain on public services, crime rates rise, and money spent on police and corrections in the cities can sop up the gains from agricultural exports as that sector innovates. Measures are being taken in Brazil to create more jobs in cities and the countryside, as well as education and training for people who have had far too little of these or the jobs that require them.

2. Biodiversity needs to be protected, and not just in the Amazon. Only about 8% of the Atlantic Rainforest remains, much of its destruction due to expansion of monoculture in states like Sao Paulo, which produces 60% of Brazil’s cane and ethanol. Protection of biodiversity in the cerrado in central Brazil, as well as closer to the coasts, is not a matter of liking flowers and birds, it is essential to the land’s continued productive ability.

Health of soil and water depends on functioning ecosystems, which are difficult to maintain in monocultural systems. Some of the larger cane and ethanol firms, such as Cosan, have done much to re-vegetate stream banks, providing much-needed buffer zones between water resources and agricultural activities. This must continue on all agricultural land as these areas provide continuous threads rather than isolated forests that do not provide the expanse needed for migrating animals essential to healthy soil and water.

It may sound like a stretch, but my doctoral research has shown the interdependency of ecology and economies. The health of each is indeed necessary to continue Brazil’s ability to feed itself and much of the rest of the world.

Please feel free to let me know what you think.

How to feed the world

The emerging conventional wisdom about world farming is gloomy. There is an alternative

Aug 26th 2010

THE world is planting a vigorous new crop: “agro-pessimism”, or fear that mankind will not be able to feed itself except by wrecking the environment. The current harvest of this variety of whine will be a bumper one. Natural disasters—fire in Russia and flood in Pakistan, which are the world’s fifth- and eighth-largest wheat producers respectively—have added a Biblical colouring to an unfolding fear of famine. By 2050 world grain output will have to rise by half and meat production must double to meet demand. And that cannot easily happen because growth in grain yields is flattening out, there is little extra farmland and renewable water is running short.

Read the entire article here.

Brazilian agriculture

The miracle of the cerrado

Brazil has revolutionised its own farms. Can it do the same for others?

Aug 26th 2010 | CREMAQ, PIAUÍ

IN A remote corner of Bahia state, in north-eastern Brazil, a vast new farm is springing out of the dry bush. Thirty years ago eucalyptus and pine were planted in this part of the cerrado (Brazil’s savannah). Native shrubs later reclaimed some of it. Now every field tells the story of a transformation. Some have been cut to a litter of tree stumps and scrub; on others, charcoal-makers have moved in to reduce the rootballs to fuel; next, other fields have been levelled and prepared with lime and fertiliser; and some have already been turned into white oceans of cotton. Next season this farm at Jatobá will plant and harvest cotton, soyabeans and maize on 24,000 hectares, 200 times the size of an average farm in Iowa. It will transform a poverty-stricken part of Brazil’s backlands.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

August 27th, 2010 at 10:23 am

U.S. Ethanol exports rise, even to Mideast

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Well, this is definitely interesting information. All along we’ve been wondering how the U.S. is going to meet the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) that were signed into law in 2007. It turns out, we have so much ethanol, and at such competitive prices, that we’re actually exporting it, even into the heart of OPEC.

I smell subsidies at work.

The Des Moines Register

By PHILIP BRASHER • pbrasher@dmreg.com • May 23, 2010

Washington, D.C. — The United States has a growing new export — ethanol fuel — and a lot is going to, of all places, the Middle East.

New government data show that nearly 46 million gallons of U.S. corn ethanol was exported in March, up from 4 million in March 2009. For the first three months of this year, ethanol exports totaled 72 million gallons.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

May 23rd, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Bill Maher and George Will spar over oil and Brazil

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“Brazil got off oil in the last 30 years.”

Bill Maher on Sunday, May 2nd, 2010 in an interview on ABC News’ ‘This Week’

Maher was probably thinking about Brazil’s 2005 declaration if energy independence. This independence was created in part by sugarcane ethanol and hydroelectric, but also because of large domestic reserves of oil and natural gas.

The graph below shows Brazil’s use of ethanol and gasoline in tons of petroleum equivalent.

Source: Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy (https://www.ben.epe.gov.br/BENSeriesCompletas.aspx)

A potential ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico led to a spirited debate on U.S. energy policy on ABC News’ This Week.

Liberal commentator Bill Maher lamented the fact that both major political parties, including President Barack Obama, have supported offshore oil drilling in recent years instead of being more aggressive about renewable energy.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

May 3rd, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Brazil Sugar Output Will Rise 19 Percent to Record, Unica Says

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March 31, 2010, 9:52 AM EDT

By Lucia Kassai

March 31 (Bloomberg) — Sugar output in Brazil’s Center South, the world’s largest producing region, will rise 19 percent to a record in the coming season as drier weather boosts yields and new mills come online.

Mills in the region, which makes 90 percent of Brazil’s sugar, will produce 34.1 million metric tons of the sweetener in the crop year starting tomorrow, up from 28.6 million a year earlier, Unica said in a report distributed today in Sao Paulo. Sugar-cane output will increase 10 percent to 595.9 million tons, Unica said.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

April 4th, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Brazil seen supplying 10% of global ethanol by 2025

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Friday, March 26, 2010 3:51 AM

(Source: Investnews; Sao Paulo)trackingSAO PAULO, 3/26/10 – Brazil’s sugar cane ethanol might replace between 5% to 10% of the gasoline consumed worldwide by 2025, said Luis Cortez, a professor at the Agricultural Engineering Faculty of Unicamp university. According to Cortez, renewable sources already supply 46% of Brazil’s energy demand (3.5 times more than the global percentage of 13%) and sugar cane accounts for 15% of it. Ethanol production, which has risen from the need to find alternative energy sources after the 1970’s oil crisis, is about to enter a growth cycle, the expert added.

The professor pointed out that despite ethanol’s huge potential, only 0.4% (3.4 million hectares) of Brazilian land is used for sugar cane planting against 22 million hectares used for soybean and 200 million hectares for pastures.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

March 30th, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Brazil Sugar Mills ‘Pray’ for Prices Amid Record Crop Outlook

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March 29, 2010, 11:17 PM EDT

By Lucia Kassai and Katia Cortes

March 30 (Bloomberg) — Brazilian sugar-cane yields are beating expectations as a waning El Nino brings benefiting dry weather to crops in the world’s largest producer, increasing prospects for a record harvest and declining prices.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

March 30th, 2010 at 3:22 pm

America’s biofuel muddle

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The article I posted the other day about the increasing likelihood of far greater U.S. importation of Brazilian ethanol has garnered a number of responses on Facebook, LinkedIn, and, mostly, via email. Few seem to want to post here on my site, despite my encouragement.

What’s maybe most interesting has been the abundance of emotion, even amongst a dearth of accurate information, in several of the responses.it’s a fascinating time to be alive, and to be working in the energy sector.

Here’s some more fodder…

Coming up empty

America will have trouble meeting its ambitious goals for biofuels

Mar 25th 2010 | CHICAGO | From The Economist print edition

THE renewable-fuel standard released in February by America’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) paints an ambitious picture of biofuels’ future. It wants the amount of the stuff used as transport fuel to climb from 13 billion gallons (49 billion litres) in 2010 to 36 billion gallons in 2022, requiring by far the largest part of that increase to come from various advanced biofuels, rather than ethanol made from corn (maize). But although the future looks exciting, the present is rather grim. The EPA has been forced to slash its 2010 mandate for the most widely touted of the non-corn biofuels, cellulosic ethanol, from 100m gallons to just 6.5m, less than a thousandth of the 11 billion gallons produced from corn in 2009.

Read the entire article here.