Joel Velasco, Chief Representative in North America for Brazil's sugarcane industry association (UNICA), told ACE conference attendees that the U.S. and Brazil agree on 99 percent of things. "We believe in the power of farmers and agriculture to solve many of these problems," Velasco said.
Forty-six percent of Brazil's total energy use is considered renewable, he noted, and sugarcane makes up about 16 percent of the country's entire energy matrix. Thanks to co-generation at the mills from burning the bagasse, sugarcane makes 3 percent of the country's electricity demand - and that may climb to 10 percent in the near future. They don't have distillers grain to sell, but they have electricity to make, Velasco said.
Half a billion tons of cane were grown last harvest, making 7 billion gallons of ethanol. This equals 31 billion metric tons of sugar. Brazil's sugar output for food is up by 20 percent, responding mainly to India's shortfall in sugar production. Velasco noted that India has shunned biofuels and now is short on sugar for food.
"There is no correlation between deforestation - it exists in Brazil, and it's a tragedy - but it has nothing to do with growing cane in Brazil or growing corn here in the U.S.," Velasco said.
In Brazil, the "gasoline" is actually E25. Ethanol competes with gasoline and keeps gas prices in check. "Gasoline in Brazil is now the alternative fuel," he said.
"The flex-fuel car has been very, very successful in Brazil," Velasco said, noting that General Motors does not offer a single car in Brazil that's not flex fuel today. The Honda Civic can run on pure ethanol and meet all emissions standards in Brazil, the U.S., and in Europe.
Velasco says that Brazil supports the move to E15 in the U.S. In UNICA's official comments to the U.S. EPA, they noted that throughout all of Brazil's many fuel changes over the years with different blends of ethanol, there were very, very few incidents with engines. "We believe the technology is all there," he said, noting that if they could do it with 1970s automotive technology, it's probably ok today.