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  Ethanol Fuel  

Energy-use associated with the production of sugarcane ethanol derives from three primary sources: the agricultural sector, the industrial sector, and the distribution sector. In the agricultural sector, 35.98 GJ of energy are used to plant, maintain, and harvest one hectare (10,000 m2) of sugarcane for usable bio fuel. This includes energy from numerous inputs, including nitrogen, phosphate, potassium oxide, lime, seed, herbicides, insecticides, labor and diesel fuel.

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The industrial sector, which includes the milling and refining sugarcane and the production of ethanol fuel, uses 3.63 GJ of energy and generates 155.57 GJ of energy per hectare of sugarcane plantation. Scientists estimate that the potential power generated from the cogeneration of bagasse could range from 1,000 to 9,000 MW, depending on harvest and technology factors. In Brazil, this is about 3% of the total energy needed.

There are several improvements to the industrial processes, such as adopting a hydrolysis process to produce ethanol instead of surplus electricity, or the use of advanced boiler and turbine technology to increase the electricity yield, or a higher use of excess bagasse and harvest trash currently left behind in the fields, that together with various other efficiency improvements in sugarcane farming and the distribution chain have the potential to allow further efficiency increases, translating into higher yields, lower production costs, and also further improvements in the energy balance and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Click here to see Brazil' Export Report

The countries in the Caribbean Basin import relative high quantities of Brazilian ethanol, but not much is destined for domestic consumption. These countries reprocess the product, usually converting Brazilian hydrated ethanol into anhydrous ethanol, and then re-export it to the United States, gaining value-added and avoiding the 2.5% duty and the US$0.54 per gallon tariff, thanks to the trade agreements and benefits granted by Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI). This process is limited by a quota, set at 7% of U.S. ethanol consumption.  Although direct U.S. exports fell in 2007, imports from four CBI countries almost doubled, increasing from 15.5% in 2006 to 25.8% in 2007, reflecting increasing re-exports to the U.S., thus partially compensating the loss of Brazilian direct exports to the U.S. This situation has caused some concerns in the United States, as it and Brazil are trying to build a partnership to increase ethanol production in Latin American and the Caribbean. As the U.S. is encouraging "new ethanol production in other countries, production that could directly compete with U.S. produced ethanol".

The U.S., potentially the largest market for Brazilian ethanol imports.  Exports of Brazilian ethanol to the U.S. reached a total of US$ 1 billion in 2006, an increase of 1,020% over 2005 (US$ 98 million), but fell significantly in 2007 due to sharp increases in American ethanol production from corn. The United States remains the largest single importer of Brazilian ethanol exports, though collectively the European Union and the CBI countries now import a similar amount.
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A 2010 study by Iowa State University's Center for Agricultural and Rural Development found that removing the U.S. import tariff would result in less than 5% of the United States’ ethanol being imported from Brazil. Also a 2010 study by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that the costs to American taxpayers of using a bio fuel to reduce gasoline consumption by one gallon are $1.78 for corn ethanol and $3.00 for cellulosic ethanol. In a similar way, and without considering potential indirect land use effects, the costs to taxpayers of reducing greenhouse gas emissions through tax credits are about $750 per metric ton of CO2-equivalent for ethanol and around $275 per metric ton for cellulosic ethanol.

As U.S. EPA's 2010 final ruling for the Renewable Fuel Standard designated Brazilian sugarcane ethanol as an advanced bio fuel.

 
       
 
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History

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Production

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Production process

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Agricultural Technology

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  Milling & Refining
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Overall Energy Use

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  Prices and effect on oil consumption
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Comparison with the United States

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Environmental & Social Impacts

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  Concerns