Brazilians may double or even triple their ethanol production over the next 15 years. However, this expansion is not infinite and needs to be executed in a planned and careful manner, in the evaluation of professor José Goldemberg, of the Electro-technique and Energy Institute at the University of São Paulo (USP) and former secretary of environment of São Paulo state.
Goldemberg supplied various figures about the matter. Brazil produces around 17 billion liters of fuel alcohol per year. According to him, this production reflects an economy of around 40% of the gasoline that would be used in the country if ethanol did not exist.
The specialist made these evaluations in a radio interview in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday, March 7. He recalls that, apart from being an important product on the domestic market, ethanol has a very competitive price.
"The industry is entirely in the hands of the private initiative, and there is practically no subsidy to production of fuel alcohol, as there was in the past, making the product very competitive," he said.
For Goldemberg, the United States and Europe are following a route that Brazil has been on for over 20 years on introducing alcohol to gasoline, as an additive. The difference is that, in the case of the United States, ethanol is produced from corn, and in Europe the product is made from beetroot.
The Infinity Bio-Energy group will invest 85 million reais (US$ 40,6 million) in expansion and modernization of the premises at its Alcana Alcohol Distillery in the city of Nanuque, in the southeastern Brazilian state of Minas Gerais.
The group bought the factory last year and plans on increasing the output, in three years, to 84 million liters of alcohol, 1.75 million bags of sugar, and 10 megawatts of energy per hour.
The expansion should be completed in 2009. The amount of milled sugar cane should increase from 545,000 tons per year to 1.5 million tons.
The forecasted revenue is of 153 million reais (US$ 73.2 million) from the third year of production onwards. The information was provided by the government of the southeastern state of Espírito Santo.
In addition to the expansion of Alcana, the Infinity group is contemplating the possibility of establishing two new plants in the region.
The group is currently increasing the production of a plant in Espírito Santo, and has established a partnership with the Itaúna Distillery S.A., with whom it is building a new unit, also in Espírito Santo, and has a project for building a plant in the state of Bahia (northeastern Brazil).