The sustainability of ethanol production from sugarcane

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Energy Policy 36 (2008) 2086– 2097

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The sustainability of ethanol production from sugarcane
´ Jose Goldemberg Ã, Suani Teixeira Coelho, Patricia Guardabassi
˜ ˜ CENBIO—The Brazilian Reference Center on Biomass, IEE—Institute of Eletrotechnics and Energy, USP—University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil

a r t i c l e in f o
Article history: Received 4 September 2007 Accepted 21 February 2008 Available online 7 April 2008 Keywords: Sugarcane ethanol Sustainability Environment

a b s t r a c t
The rapid expansion of ethanol production from sugarcane in Brazil has raised a number of questions regarding its
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Different feedstocks for ethanol production must also be compared in such terms, as well as their land use efficiency (tC/ha/yr) (Larson, 2006). What makes ethanol from sugarcane attractive as a replacement for gasoline is that it is essentially a renewable fuel while

à Corresponding author. Sao Paulo University (USP). Av. Prof. Luciano Gualberto, ˜ ˜ 1289 Sao Paulo Brazil 05508-010. Tel.: +55 11 30915054; fax: +55 11 30915056. E-mail address: (J. Goldemberg).

0301-4215/$ - see front matter & 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2008.02.028

J. Goldemberg et al. / Energy Policy 36 (2008) 2086–2097 2087

Table 1 Energy and greenhouse gas balance of ethanol production from sugarcane Energy output/input Average case: 8.3a Best case: 10.2b GHG emission (kg/m3) Average case: 389a Best case: 359b

Source: Macedo et al. (2004). a Average technology available: scenario based on the average values of energy and material consumption. b Best technology available: scenario based on the best values being practiced in the sugarcane sector (minimum consumption with the use of the best technology in use in the sector).

energy output/input ratio

12 10 8 6 4 2 0 Sugar cane Sugar beet Wheat straw Corn Wood

ethanol and 17.2% due to the use of sugarcane bagasse in energy

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