Five brazilian sugarcane processing mills have completed the first step to export ethanol to the United States under the "advanced biofuel" category. Usina Central Energética Vale do Sapucaí (CEVASA), controlled by Cargill, and four mills associated with the largest cooperative in Brazil's sugarcane industry, Copersucar, successfully obtained registration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). All five mills are members of the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA).
“What these mill have achieved with EPA is very significant and relevant. It represents a stamp in the passport for these companies to enter the largest and most relevant ethanol producer and consumer market in the world. We are confident that other mills will also comply with EPA standards, which officially recognizes cane biofuel as advanced,” said the Chief Representative for North America at UNICA, Joel Velasco.
In February of this year, the EPA designated sugarcane ethanol as a low carbon, renewable biofuel, that contributes significantly to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The announcement, part of the final regulation that defines the mandate for biofuel use in the United States (Renewable Fuel Standard – RFS2), determines that cane ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by at least 60% when compared to gasoline.
According to U.S. regulation, since July 1st, all biofuels used in the country must come from EPA registered mills to be considered in compliance with the RFS2 mandate. The EPA also requires that the raw material utilized to produce the biofuel cannot come from areas previously covered by native vegetation.
Velasco explains that the registration process with the EPA is relatively simple, involving an online registration, as well as an engineering review of the mill. "It will be easier for the mill to sell its product within the United States after the registration approval, because the ethanol will be registered and will generate a Renewable Identification Number (RIN), which is necessary for the U.S. trader/importer to comply with RFS2 standards," he adds.
UNICA’s representative in Washington also points out that the RFS2 establishes a minimum consumption in the United States of 13 billion gallons (50 billion liters) of biofuels this year, a total that will increase to as much as 36 billion gallons (136 billion liters) annually by 2022: “Over half of this demand is reserved for advanced biofuels, and one type of biofuel that already has this designation is sugarcane ethanol, which potentially can fullfill up to 15 billion liters of the total."
“UNICA’s office in Washington is ready to support all members looking for information or guidance on the U.S. market,” Velasco concludes, adding that the organization does not intend to pursue a unified registration process for all its members.