Bioenergy

Brazil Considers Ethanol Partnership with Jamaica

At the Annual General Meeting of the All-Island Cane Farmers Association held recently in Jamaica, speakers attributed Brazil’s success in the sugar cane business to science and technology. Plus, Professor Antonio Bonomi of the Brazilian Institute for Technological Research, whose specialty is in the area of biotechnology and biofuels, said Brazil was interested in partnering with Jamaica to produce ethanol.

Ten years ago, Brazil invested $11 billion in ethanol, Professor Bonomi said, and had saved $30 billion over the past eight years. Some of his country’s achievements include a reduction in the importation and expenditure of oil, reduction in the cost of expanding the agricultural frontier, an increase in Gross Internal Revenue, an expansion of the equipment sector, new distilleries built, biogas made from the stillage and stillage used for irrigation. Jamaica aims to realize similar success with ethanol, especially in light of the fact that the European Union (EU), Jamaica’s major export market, is reducing the price it pays for sugar it imports from African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states by 36 percent over four years. Jamaican Minister of Agriculture Roger Clarke said that in order to facilitate sustainability, Jamaica must seize the opportunities from adding value to the production of raw sugar, including the production of ethanol and cogeneration. However, a critical step toward competitiveness is the efficient production of sugar cane. Jamaica must intensify its diversification program as the sugar industry needs an adequate supply of cane to be produced to facilitate a multi-product industry. The sugar cane plant is the most efficient converter of solar energy into biomass. This means that it is important as a source of renewable energy, whether it is used for the production of ethanol as fuel or as an additive for the transport sector or for the generation of electrical power. Technology is achieving conversion of bagasse to ethanol and the conversion of sucrose into industrial chemicals and pharmaceuticals currently made from petroleum. The future attests to the importance of renewables and biomass, sugars and the broader family of carbohydrates.