Ethanol is a flourishing industry.
With the excessive exploitation of oil, natural gas, coal and other
energy sources, the world has been facing a serious energy crisis.
Many vehicles on the road today can run
on blends of ethanol and gasoline¡ªmost on lower-level blends such as
E10 (10% ethanol and 90% gasoline), and many on higher level blends
such as E85 (85% ethanol and 15% gasoline). Because of the abundance
of ethanol-compatible vehicles, the future is bright for ethanol as
a fuel. As a renewable energy, fuel ethanol has
become the important new energy highly promoted by many governments
to solve the problems of high international oil prices and
substantially increasing demand for energy. Fuel ethanol will be
helpful in easing the oil shortages.
FACT: Brazil produces more ethanol than
any other country except the U.S., and is the largest exporter of
fuel ethanol. Graphic Source: FRA (Renewable Fuels
Brazil and the United States took the lead in creating many
incentives and laws to expand ethanol development . Many other countries such
as China, Australia, Canada, France, Spain and Sweden have also
followed the suit in large scale production.
In Brazil, ethanol fuel is
produced from sugar cane which is a more efficient source of
fermentable carbohydrates than corn as well as much easier to grow
and process. Brazil has the tropical climate that is required for
the productive culture of sugarcane. Brazil has the largest sugar
cane crop in the world, and is the largest exporter of ethanol in
the world. High government sales taxes on gasoline, as well as
government subsidies for ethanol, have cultivated a profitable
national ethanol industry. Nearly all fueling stations in Brazil
offer a choice of either gasoline type C or hydrated ethanol. Brazil
remains in the leading position in fuel ethanol. Gasoline is
expected to blend 22%~24% ethanol. The government of Brazil is
encouraging the development of E85% (85% ethanol admixture) cars.
The United States allows up to 10% blends (ethanol is blended with
gasoline to form an E10 blend) (10% ethanol and 90% gasoline), and some states require
this (or a smaller amount) in all gasoline sold. Other countries
have adopted their own requirements. Blends of at least 85% ethanol
are considered alternative fuels under the Energy Policy Act of 1992
(EPAct) in the Unites States. E85, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15%
gasoline, is used in flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) that are
currently offered by most major auto manufacturers. FFVs can run on
gasoline, E85, or any combination of the two and qualify as
alternative fuel vehicles under EPAct regulations. President Bush
announced the Advanced Energy Initiative, thus there has been an
increased interest in ethanol as a fuel
In 2004, the United States took the
first step in banning MTBE. MTBE consumption amount was reduced to
7.29 million t/year from the peak 12.88 million t/year. Meanwhile,
Ethanol consumption amount was increased to 9.44 million t/year from
5.15 million t/year of the beginning of 2002.
The Canadian government estimates that, ¡°If 35 percent of gasoline
in Canada contained ten percent ethanol, GHG emissions would be
reduced by 1.8 megatonnes per year (1.8 million tonnes), which is
the equivalent of removing more than 400,000 vehicles from the
road.¡± Beginning January 1, 2007, gasoline sold in Ontario contains
an average of at least five per cent ethanol. This may be
accomplished by the actual blending of ethanol, or through the
trading of renewable fuel credits (Ontario Regulation 535/05).
Implementing a 5% blend of ethanol in gasoline will generate
hundreds of jobs in rural Ontario, create a market for an additional
50 million bushels of corn every year and reduce greenhouse
emissions by the equivalent of 200,000 cars. Canada¡¯s ethanol
production is expected to triple, to over 650 million litres by
2010. Over 70 per cent of revenue from an ethanol plant is spent
within a 150 kilometre radius of the plant site. With the increase
in fuel prices lately ethanol blends are becoming very economical
compared to gasoline.
In other countries
The European Parliament has issued a directive which targets 5.75% (caricom)
(based on fuel content) transportation fuel consumption from
biofuels. Thus ethanol will play an increasing role in the market
besides MTBE in Europe.
Other countries (mainly China,
Poland, India, Canada and Australia) have also issued directives in
ethanol gasoline. The fuel ethanol consumption in these areas is
expected to have a rise of 3.43 million t/year.