Today European cars run on Brazilian sugar – Tomorrow they run on residues

A new report from Novozymes describes how Brazil could produce up to 8 billion liters of biofuel from sugarcane residues (bagasse) by 2020, representing additional export revenue for Brazil of up to USD 4 billion.

According to the report, within two to three years Brazil could start large-scale production of biofuel made from sugarcane residues, in addition to the existing production from sugar itself. By 2020, Brazil could produce 4.6-8.2 billion liters of biofuel from bagasse. Next generation biofuel will not only generate larger exports for Brazil but will also help the country maintain its leadership in renewable energy.

This development will depend on the industry’s ability to attract the needed investments and political support, and this will be part of the discussion at the Ethanol Summit in São Paulo, held June 1–3, where results from the Novozymes report will be presented in detail by Steen Riisgaard, CEO of Danish-based Novozymes, the leading supplier of the enzymes needed for bioethanol production.

“Today Brazilian and European cars run on sugar – tomorrow they will run on agricultural residues,” says Steen Riisgaard. “Brazil is expected to be able to produce up to 4.6–8.2 billion liters of second-generation ethanol from sugarcane biomass by 2020, putting the Brazilian market for biofuel in a unique position.”

He continues: “Currently 7% of the total global gasoline consumption consists of biofuel, with the potential of rising to at least 25% of global need for transport fuel by 2030. Both the EU and the US are in strong demand for next-generation biofuel, and we believe that Brazil is perfectly suited for grabbing a large share of that market.”

Unique opportunity for Brazil in growing global market
Last year, the EU doubled its import of biofuel, with the majority of supplies coming from Brazil. The export market for biofuels is growing rapidly due to political commitments in the US and the European Union to create a cleaner transportation sector, backed by legislation that creates global demand and gives Brazil a unique position in the market.

US and EU legislation favors biofuels made from residues instead of food stocks. Novozymes and its Brazilian partner CTC are investing heavily in developing biofuels from residues, and in March this year they received a EUR 1.6 million grant from the European Union in support of this important work. The EU contract is aimed at achieving lower costs in the conversion of biomass into ethanol.

In Brazil, the proportion of bioethanol used in transport fuel is already at 50% which is much higher than the 7% in the US, 2% in China, and 1% in Europe, putting Brazil in a clear first position globally.

Global investment in ethanol has increased significantly over the last eight years, rising from USD 430 million in 2001 to USD 14,100 million in 2007 – with Brazil in a prominent global position.

More on the Ethanol Summit
Steen Riisgaard will present the report at the Ethanol Summit, to be held for the second time in São Paulo on June 1–3, which will feature 140 speakers and is expected to attract hundreds of participants from around the world, including researchers, business leaders and government officials. They will discuss the future of biofuels in Brazil, with special emphasis on the most widely used biofuel of all, bioethanol.