Oct 06, 2023

Corn Ethanol Accounts for 19% of Ethanol Consumed in Brazil

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The sugarcane harvest season in Brazil will end in December and Conab is estimating that the 2023/24 sugarcane crop in Brazil will increase 4.4% compared to last year. Ethanol production in 2023/24 from both sugarcane and corn is expected to increase 5.9% to 33.17 billion liters.

The Minister of Agriculture and the National Corn Ethanol Union (Unem) estimate that Brazil will produce 6 billion liters of corn ethanol in 2023/24 which represents 19% of the ethanol consumed within the country. Brazil has 18 corn ethanol facilities divided between corn only facilities and flex facilities that can utilize corn when sugarcane is not available during the summer rainy season.

This is a remarkable increase in corn ethanol production considering that the first corn ethanol facility in Brazil opened in July of 2017 in the city of Lucas do Rio Verde in the state of Mato Grosso.

Bioenergy produced from corn has an advantage over sugarcane because of the byproducts such as dry distillers grain that is used as animal rations. These byproducts increase economic activity and incomes in rural areas.

The aviation sector is expected to play an important role in future bioenergy production in Brazil. A new requirement in Brazil mandates that as of 2027, flights in Brazil must compensate for their greenhouse gas emissions by either purchasing carbon credits or using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) made from ethanol.

The Brazilian company Raizen is the largest producer of ethanol derived from sugarcane and the first company to receive the ISCC Corsia Plus (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) certification to produce Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) sanctioned by the International Airlines Transportation Association (IATA). They received the certification for their sugarcane facility in the city of Piracicaba, Sao Paulo.

With the certification, Raizen becomes the first company to supply ethanol for SAF production in Brazil and the world. Producing SAF from renewable and sustainable feedstock can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% compared to petroleum aviation fuel according to a Raizen spokesperson. To meet the demand, Raizen is using a process called Alcohol-to-Jet (AtJ) that converts ethanol to SAF.

The entire bioenergy sector in Brazil offers many benefits for rural communities in the form of employment and income in addition to the environmental benefits of reduced greenhouse gas emissions.