Sugarcane ethanol and bioelectricity are renewable energy solutions that cut greenhouse gases (GHG) significantly when compared to fossil fuels. But what does this environmental benefit mean in practice? Here are a few examples drawn from Brazil’s experience.
- For every liter of ethanol consumed in a flex-fuel engine that runs on either gasoline or ethanol, an average of 1.7 kg of carbon dioxide is not emitted.
- Since flex-fuel vehicles were first launched in March 2003, Brazil has avoided emitting more than 350 million tons of carbon dioxide. To remove a similar amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, you would need to plant 2.5 billion native trees and maintain them for 20 years.
- Without sugarcane ethanol and bioelectricity, Brazilian greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation and power generation sectors would have been 22% higher in 2006 and could be 43% higher in 2020.
- Ethanol also lowers the cost of controlling global warming. Each liter used saves US$0.20 that would otherwise have to be spent on measures to mitigate GHG emissions.
- Since the start of Brazil’s ethanol program in 1975, more than 600 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions have been avoided thanks to the use of this clean and renewable fuel.
These environmental benefits should only increase in the future given the level of investments in new technologies, such as mechanized harvesting and installation of high-efficiency boilers, ensuring the Brazilian sugar-energy sector remains an important player in the fight against climate change.
See here for more information on emissions avoided through the production and consumption of sugarcane products.