Evolution of Brazilian sugarcane industry attracts attention of U.S. Department of Energy
|Photo: Michael Mathews (left) and a representative of the U.S.
Department of Energy (DOE) during visit to UNICA (Photo:
The current status of the sugarcane industry in Brazil and its perspectives for the next decade were among the topics discussed between representatives of the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) and specialists from the United States Department of Energy (DoE). The meeting, at UNICA headquarters in Sao Paulo on April 23rd, was part of a series of meetings the DoE delegation will have with executives from a variety of energy-related areas.
“We came to collect data from the main energy sources in the country, and the sugarcane industry could not be left out of our research. The information will help us to understand how the industry has evolved in Brazil and identify the path Brazil has followed," explained the delegation’s Chief Economist, Michael Matthew.
The group met at UNICA with the associaton's Emissions and Technology Consultant, Alfred Szwarc, and its Institutional Affairs Coordinator, Luana Maia. Current challenges on the domestic ethanol market and future perspectives dominated the discussion, with emphasis on technological advances aimed at sustainably expanding production. These include the use of sweet sorghum in the sugarcane production system, an option being tested as a potential complement to ethanol production.
According to Szwarc, the quest for knowledge about the cane industry by DoE officials illustrates the importance of the subject and the need for consistent information.”The sugarcane culture and its products have been followed by the U.S. government with particular interest, especially after cane ethanol produced in Brazil was designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in February of 2010 as an advanced biofuel, which gives it privileged access to the American market for environmental reasons," he explained.
Cane and Corn
The United States is currently the top ethanol producer in the world, with 2011 totals reaching some 55 billion liters of ethanol produced from corn. Brazil ranks second, with approximately 23 billion liters of sugarcane ethanol produced in the last harvest. Together, the two countries account for more than 70% of world production and in excess of 80% of the global ethanol market.
“Brazil and the U.S. have a lot in common, especially where the production of biofuels is concerned, which explains the exchange of information and the mutual interest," concluded Szwarc.