EPA Reaffirms Sugarcane Biofuel is Advanced Renewable Fuel with 61% Less Emissions than Gasoline
São Paulo (February 03, 2010) —The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed that ethanol made from sugarcane is a low carbon renewable fuel, which can contribute significantly to the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As part of today’s announcement finalizing regulations for the implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2), the EPA designated sugarcane ethanol as an advanced biofuel that lowers GHG emissions by more than 50%.
“The EPA’s decision underscores the many environmental benefits of sugarcane ethanol and reaffirms how this low carbon, advanced renewable fuel can help the world mitigate against climate change while diversifying America’s energy resources,” said Joel Velasco, Chief Representative in Washington for the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA).
Sugarcane ethanol is a renewable fuel refined from cane that grows typically in tropical climates. Compared to other types of ethanol available today, using sugarcane ethanol to power cars and trucks yields greater reductions in greenhouse gases and is usually much cheaper for drivers to purchase. Brazil has replaced more than half of its fuel needs with sugarcane ethanol – making gasoline the alternative fuel in that country and ethanol the standard. Many observers point to sugarcane ethanol as a good option for diversifying U.S. energy supplies, increasing healthy competition among biofuel manufacturers and improving America’s energy security.
The RFS2 will help the United States meet energy security and greenhouse gas reduction goals sought by the Energy Security and Independence Act of 2007 (EISA). The new regulations establish minimum biofuels consumption in the U.S. of more than 12 billion gallons (45 billion liters) in 2010, rising to 36 billion gallons (136 billion liters) in 2022, of which 21 billion gallons per year would have to be one of three types of advanced biofuels: cellulosic, biomass diesel, and “other advanced,” that meet required GHG reduction thresholds as determined by the EPA.
Today, EPA affirmed that sugarcane ethanol meets the “other advanced” category in the RFS2, although with a GHG reduction level that exceeds the requirement for all categories as well. Specifically, EPA’s calculations show that sugarcane ethanol from Brazil reduces GHG emissions compared to gasoline by 61%, using a 30-year payback for indirect land use change (iLUC) emissions.
“We are pleased that EPA took the time to improve the regulations, particularly by more accurately quantifying the full lifecycle greenhouse emission reductions of biofuels. EPA’s reaffirmation of sugarcane ethanol’s superior GHG reduction confirms that sustainably-produced biofuels can play a important role in climate mitigation. Perhaps this recognition will sway those who have sought to raise trade barriers against clean energy here in the U.S. and around the world. Sugarcane ethanol is a first generation biofuel with third generation performance,” noted Velasco.
Last year, UNICA submitted comments to EPA with abundant scientifically credible evidence showing that — even including indirect emissions — sugarcane ethanol has a reduction of GHG emissions of 73-82% compared with gasoline, on a 30- or 100-year time horizon respectively. The RFS2 requires the use of at least 4 billion gallons (over 15 billion liters) of “other advanced” renewable fuels a year by 2022. In 2010, the RFS requires 200 million gallons of this type of advanced renewable fuels.
“While we are reviewing the final rule, it is clear that EPA has incorporated many of the comments that UNICA and other stakeholders made during the public process. EPA should be congratulated for the way it upheld the Obama’s goals of transparency and scientific integrity in the environmental rulemaking. And we hope that other governments should take note of the manner that EPA has handled this process,” concluded Velasco.
Brazil is a leader in the production of sugarcane ethanol, which is widely considered as the most efficient biofuel available today. In 2009, Brazil produced over 7 billion gallons of sugarcane ethanol, most of which is used in Brazil in flex fuel vehicles. As a result of Brazil’s innovative use of sugarcane ethanol in transportation and biomass for cogeneration, sugarcane is the leading source of renewable energy in the nation, representing 16% of the country’s total energy needs. In fact, gasoline has become the alternative in Brazil, reducing the country’s dependence on fossil fuels lowering emissions. A recent study in the November 2009 edition of the journal Energy Policy indicated that since 1975, over 600 million tons of CO2 emissions have been avoided thanks to the use of ethanol in Brazil.