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Sugarcane Ethanol Helps Protect the Environment

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Silos and a field of sugarcane. Leading environmental officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and in California agree: ethanol made from sugarcane is an ideal renewable fuel that can help reduce greenhouse gases while diversifying America's energy resources. EPA has designated sugarcane ethanol as an Advanced Renewable Fuel – an important category of superior biofuels that, along with cellulosic biofuels and others, will make up 21 billion gallons of America’s fuel supply by 2022. This is equal to about 15% of today’s gasoline market. In California, the state’s air regulators have classified sugarcane ethanol as a “low-carbon” fuel that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the state’s transportation sector.

What is it about sugarcane ethanol that makes the fuel so environmentally friendly?

  • Renewable – Sugarcane ethanol, unlike coal or oil, is produced from sugarcane plants that grow back year after year.
  • Sustainable – Since sugarcane only needs to be replanted every five to seven years – as a semi-perennial crop it can be harvested without uprooting the plant, its cultivation has less impact on the soil and surrounding environment. Learn more about sustainable sugarcane agriculture in Brazil.
  • Efficient Energy Conversion - Sugarcane is highly efficient in converting sunlight, water, soil nutrients and CO2 into stored energy. Also, because the use of fossil energy in the sugarcane industry is low, the ratio of renewable energy output per unit of fossil energy input in the ethanol production cycle is seven times higher for sugarcane when compared to corn.
  • Lower Carbon Emissions – Compared to gasoline, sugarcane ethanol cuts greenhouse gases by more than 60%. That’s better than any other liquid biofuel produced today in large quantities.

Due to significant environmental benefits, sugarcane ethanol is pointed out by many observers as a good option for diversifying U.S. energy supplies, increasing healthy competition among biofuel manufacturers and improving America’s energy security.

 

copyright 2010 Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association