President Lula has recently inaugurated Barralcool, the first integrated biofuels plant that will produce sugarcane-based ethanol and biodiesel from oilseeds. Brazil’s bioethanol programme goes back at least to the oil crisis in the 1970s, and has been the world’s most advanced biofuels market for decades. There are currently nearly 300 sugar-ethanolmills in operation, with 60 or more under construction.
Rising global demand for biofuels has provided an opportunity, not only to expand its sugarcane ethanol, but also to save its ailing soybeanindustry, by turning soybean oil into another biofuel, biodiesel.
The new ethanol-biodiesel plant in Barra do Bugres, Mato Grosso, in the heart of Brazil’s centre-west soybean belt, has been producingethanol from surrounding sugarcane fields for more than 20 years, but Dedini, a leading provider of sugar-ethanol biodiesel and cogeneration plants in Brazil, constructed the integrated biodiesel planton the site, after investing 27 million Reals.
The Lula government recently passed legislation that will mandate a 2 percent blend of biodiesel from oilseed crops like soybean, sunflower or castorbeans in all commercial sales of petroleum diesel by 2008 rising to 5 percent by 2013. A few hundred filling stations already offer blends. Brazil has about 10 biodiesel plants in operation and another40 under construction.
Currently, about half of Brazil’s sugarcane crop has gone into bioethanol production with the rest being refined into sugar.
Motorists today can choose to fill up with 100percent ethanol at half the price of gasoline at over 30 000 filling stations nationwide, or petrol blended with 20-25 percent ethanol. Ethanol accounts for 40 percent of all non-diesel consumption.Brazil produced 15.9 billion litres of bioethanol in 2005, more than one-third of the world’s supply and second only to the United States. Brazil’s bioethanol is the only large-scale biofuel programme...