With Brazil’s success, other Latin American and Caribbean countries are also trying to develop biofuels with the support of groups such as the Inter-American Development Bank. The main producers of sugarcane in the region are Guyana, Jamaica and Barbados.
The world’s most important Biofuel: Ethanol
Currently, the main use of biofuel is for the production of ethanol, a gasoline mix of biofuels and fossil fuels. Brazil has been able to optimize their production to a point where they are exporting their surplus. The majority of their vehicles are also able to efficiently use ethanol. They are finding new ways to improve the original recipe of 85 percent gasoline and 15 percent biofuel. So far, they have managed to get a recipe of 75 percent gasoline and 25% biofuel.
Why are Biofuels so important for the future? Fossil fuels supplies will eventually be depleted by humans. Biofuels are derived from renewable crops. This is the reason why they are considered green energy alongside solar, wind and geothermal sources. Also, Biofuels produce less carbon dioxide than fossil fuels. Scientists believe that this is the main cause of global warming.
Brazil’s Courageous, Controversial Investment
Brazil did not become a Green leader overnight, its government has been investing in biofuels since the 1970’s even though other countries were turning their backs to Biofuel because of its high cost. It was especially hard for the Brazilian government to heavily spend on infrastructure as oil prices were low during those times.
The spark for Brazil came with the Middle East oil embargo of 1973. Investments were required in agricultural production of sugarcane, and in building new facilities, backed by government subsidies and tax cuts. By 1990, Brazil was producing 20 times more ethanol than in 1973 and had become “energy independent,” an achievement that is the envy of other nations. The world’s first automobile to run on ethanol was a 1979 Fiat produced in Brazil.
Brazil is now sharing its knowledge about ethanol internationally with a focus on developing countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa. Analysts are saying that results are starting to show with the decline in oil prices in the past couple of months.
Other countries are investing in developing their own biofuel with the resources available. Europe is currently focusing on wheat and sugar beets. Asia is using palm oil. China is using sorghum. The United States have replaced corn with soybean and switch grass. Great Britain is developing solid biofuels with dried farm manure and trash.
With all their efforts, no other country in the world has managed to find a green, eco-friendly biofuel that performs to the level of Brazil’s sugarcane