FIFA World Cup to Feature Biofuels & Solar

FIFA World Cup BrasilThe FIFA World Cup 2014 is underway in Brazil and this year’s event features several renewable energy and sustainable measures never before seen during the event.

Sugar Cane Industry Association (UNICA) is supplying the governing body of the football fleet (known as soccer to those living in the U.S.) with ethanol. Flex-fuel cars from Hyundai, Model HB20 Edition FIFA World Cup, are running the streets and roads of Brazil powered with fuel from cane sugar.

The adoption of ethanol is one of the measures to avoid, reduce and offset emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) released dioxide in the atmosphere, the ‘Football for the Planet,’ according to FIFA’s official environmental program that aims to reduce the negative impact of their activities on the environment. In Brazil, FIFA and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the 2014 World Cup are putting in place projects that address key areas such as waste, water, energy, transport, logistics and climate change.

Kids play football on the beach as Brazil prepare for the World Cup on June 11, 2014 in Maceio, Brazil. (Photo by Alex Livesey - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Kids play football on the beach as Brazil prepare for the World Cup on June 11, 2014 in Maceio, Brazil. (Photo by Alex Livesey – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

For the consultant Emissions and Technology of Sugar Cane Industry Association (UNICA), Alfred Szwarc, the initiative of the FIFA program is extremely appropriate as sugarcane ethanol compared with gasoline. He cites sugar-based ethanol reduces 90 percent of greenhouse gases that cause climate change when compared to straight gasoline. Reducing global warming is one of focuses of the “Football for the Planet” FIFA campaign.

In addition to biofuels, Yingli Green Energy has provided dozens of solar panels to various operations involved with FIFA and this year the company plans to offset all carbon emissions arising from its promotional activities in Brazil to make the FIFA World Cup Brazil the greenest in history. The company’s efforts included all solar powered stadiums, commercial displays, customer hospitality, media activities, and employee travel and accommodation. To achieve carbon neutrality, Yingli has:

  • Supplied over 5,000 Yingli solar panels and nearly 30 off-grid solar energy systems to help power matches at multiple FIFA World Cup stadiums;
  • Partnered with ClimatePartner, an independent, certified environmental agency, to accurately calculate and verify emissions data for the duration of Yingli’s sponsorship activation in Brazil;
  • Committed to investing in carbon emission reduction certificates that are generated by a local Brazilian project, and that are certified by the Bureau Veritas Certification Holding SAS.

“By becoming history’s first carbon neutral sponsor of the FIFA World Cup, Yingli is honoring its commitment to our environment and to our planet,” noted Mr. Liansheng Miao, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yingli Green Energy. “As a company whose products and mission are deeply intertwined with sustainability issues, we are dedicated to reducing the ecological impact of all aspects of our business operations, including our highly visible and pervasive marketing activities.”

Brazilian Ethanol Sales Break Record

Domestic ethanol sales in Brazil have reached an all-time high according to data compiled through the end of March for the 2013/2014 harvest. The total sales volume reached 23.07 billion liters, as compared to 18.68 liters in the same 2012/2013 harvest period.

sugarcane field photo-dowIn Brazil, the majority of the ethanol is hydrous ethanol, which saw a 16.27 percent growth to 13.70 billion liters. Sales of hydrous ethanol also saw records with an increase of 35.84 percent as compared to last season’s harvest.

“Raising the level of mixture of anhydrous ethanol in gasoline to 25 percent in May 2013 was the right decision, and the industry responded to increased demand without any kind of problem,” explained Antonio de Padua Rodrigues, technical director of UNICA, the association that represents the Brazilian sugarcane industry. “The production capacity of the dry mills indicates the possibility of new expansion in the supply of the product if the government opts for the approval of the increase of the mixture to 27.5 percent.
Information collected by the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP) show that the current production capacity of ethanol for the 2014/2015 harvest is exceeding production recorded in 2013/2014 harvest. In the case of anhydrous ethanol, the capacity indicated by the ANP is 101 million liters, compared to around 70 million per day actually produced this season.

Rodrigues noted that the majority of alcohol (ethanol) production takes place at the beginning of the harvest and this year the trend will continue a few months longer due to lower demand for sugar on the global market and the need for liquidity and cash flow my mills with financial problems.

PAISS Program to Help Brazilian Sugarcane Industry

Sugarcane_harvesting_equipment_Piracicaba_  Mariordo Mario Roberto Duran OrtizThe National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES) and the Funding of Innovation and Research (FINEP) have announced a new program to encourage agricultural innovation for the Brazilian sugarcane industry. The goal of PAISS is to spur innovation and research that achieves gains in increasing productivity while lowering production costs. The PAISS complements the similar plan launched by BNDES and FINEP in 2011.

Enabling investments in agricultural innovation contributes to a renewal of the gains in productivity and to reductions in production costs. “It’s a step that can help us reach a new virtuous circle of investment to expand the production capacity of the sugarcane industry,” said Elizabeth Farina, the president of the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA).

Farina noted that 60 percent of the production costs of ethanol and sugar lies in agricultural production. “The agricultural costs are already high and are in the ascendant, unlike the costs of industrial processing of sugarcane, which has been the subject of research and investment that has resulted in lower costs,” Farina explained.

UNICA data show that during the boom years of the sugarcane industry, between 2002 and 2010, the cost of agricultural production amounted to U.S. $15 per tonne while today this cost has doubled to nearly U.S. $30 per tonne.

Farina noted that the industry has adopted new and advanced technologies with unique speed, as observed in the process of mechanization of the harvest. This is leading to the elimination of burning the cane fields. “But the fact is that in the effort to mechanize the industry literally changed processes without research by adapting existing technology used for manually harvesting sugarcane. Over five years, the industry has adapted to the sugarcane machines, not the machines to sugarcane. It will probably take another five years to find better answers,” added Farina.

UNICA Weighs In On EPA’s 2014 Proposed Rules

UNICA will be weighing in today during the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) public hearing on their 2014 proposed rules for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Leticia Phillips, the North American representative for the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA), notes that the organization believes the proposed renewable fuels volumes “pulls the rug from underneath the advanced biofuels industry.”

UNICAPhillips says UNICA on behalf of the Brazilian sugarcane industry has worked collaboratively with the EPA and the U.S. renewable fuel industry for over six years. She notes that since the beginning of the RFS program, EPA had been a strong supporter of the modest but important role Brazilian sugarcane ethanol plays supplying Americans with sustainable fuel.

In 2010, explains Phillips, the agency certified that Brazilian sugarcane ethanol cuts carbon dioxide emissions by more than 60 percent and designated it as an advanced renewable fuel. Following congressional intent, she continues, EPA has encouraged advanced biofuels because they are the category of renewable fuel with the greatest greenhouse gas reductions. So it came as an extraordinary shock and is deeply concerning that EPA has proposed to drastically reduce the volumes of advanced fuels for the 2014 RFS.

“Slashing next year’s target for advanced biofuels is a huge step backwards from the Obama administration’s goal of decreasing greenhouse gases and improving energy security,” says Phillips. “Advanced biofuels, including Brazilian sugarcane ethanol, reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 50 percent compared to gasoline and are a proven solution for addressing climate change. Yet, EPA’s proposed formula for setting advanced biofuel targets blatantly ignores its own estimates that 650-800 million gallons of sugarcane ethanol can be supplied to the United States in 2014.”

The proposed rules cut advanced biofuel volumes next year by more than 40 percent compared to the requirements written into the RFS statute. Phillips notes that while the advanced category is being reduced by 49 percent, they are only proposing less than 10 percent reduction to volume requirements for conventional biofuels, such as corn-based ethanol, which include a number of grandfather facilities that may well not meet the minimum requirement of 20 percent reduction.

EPA should set renewable fuel standards that encourage production and consumption of all available advanced biofuels,” says Phillips. “Because the domestic market for American biofuels is growing rapidly. EPA originally projected that the U.S. would need to import around 660 million gallons of Brazilian sugarcane ethanol to meet the 2013 advanced biofuel standard. However, total sugarcane ethanol imports will end this year at only 450-500 million gallons – not because Brazil has exhausted its capacity for exports – but because American production of advanced biofuels is expanding quicker than EPA forecast.”

Phillips concludes by saying that Congress clearly intended to encourage greater use of advanced biofuels year over year, in order to achieve the largest GHG reductions possible. She notes that UNICA supports EPA’s Option 1, which would set the advanced biofuel volume requirements based on the availability of advanced biofuels plus carryover RINs. She also encourages EPA to consider implementation of California’s low carbon fuel standard when setting the RFS targets.

South Africa Adopts Biofuels Mandate

The Department of Energy of South Africa has announced that beginning October 1 2015, all gasoline and diesel sold in the country will include the addition of biofuels. The mandatory blending regulations released by the Department of Energy of South Africa in August 2012, allows mixing of B5 biodiesel and between E2 and E10 for gasoline, ie between 2 percent and 10 percent ethanol blended into gasoline.

South African flagThe Executive Director of the Sugar Cane Industry Union (UNICA), Eduardo Leão de Sousa, noted the introduction of mandatory blending, supported by clear policies and long-term, represents an important step towards the creation of a regional market in South Africa. “Considering the political and economic leadership of South Africa in the region, this initiative should encourage neighboring countries to adopt similar policies, enabling larger scales of production and consumption.”

The regulations also make sure that the biofuel-blended fuel are of high quality. Blenders may only negotiate with producers who are licensed to produce and sell biofuels and they will be required to provide a certificate that guarantees the quality in the production process. Oil producers will have to pay a regulated price and the South African Department of Energy is currently working on a table of biofuel prices that it hopes to have completed by the end of the year.

The effective date of October 2015, also takes into account the need to develop and improve the infrastructure for manufacturing, supplying and blending of biofuels. An implementation committee for biofuels was created especially to ensure that issues are resolved to the blends before the regulation comes into effect.

Africa has great potential to produce ethanol from sugarcane, which is considered an advanced biofuel by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) meaning its reductions of greenhouse gases are higher than 50 percent. Sugarcane ethanol emits up to 90% less carbon dioxide (CO2) compared with gasoline.

Ethanol – The Complete Fuel Wins Awards

The Union of the Industry of Cane Sugar Association’s (UNICA) “Ethanol – The Complete Fuel” has won four awards including the Sponsor of the Year for 2013 during the 17th Annual Brazilian Association Rural Marketing and Agribusiness. The country-wide campaign was designed to educate consumers about the benefits of ethanol. The association has also called upon the government to assist with this educational campaign.

We want to recognize the effort made ​​by the entire sugarcane industry, who made this campaign a reality and achieved significant results. The campaign was spearheaded by UNICA with strong engagement with its affiliates, but had important additional support from several plants that are not our affiliates and entities that helped expand the reach of the campaign said UNICA President Elizabeth Farina. Three associations – the Alcopar, Paraná; the Sifaeg; and Siamig Goiás, Minas Gerais – invested its own funds in the campaign and rolled it out in their respective states.

In addition to receiving the award for the UNICA Advertiser of the Year for 2013 in agribusiness, Farina delivered a special tribute for ABMR & A to honor former Agriculture Minister Roberto Rodrigues. He was recognized for his leading role in building the movement Am Agro, which among other elements, conducted an advertising campaign in 2011 in favor of agribusiness, which had as protagonists actors Lima Duarte and Giovanna Antonelli. UNICA was the main supporter of the Movement am Agro.

The Borghi/Low , the agency that developed the campaign “Ethanol, Complete Fuel,” also received several achievements during the awards, including the Agency of the Year in agribusiness in 2013, for their work on behalf of UNICA and the Box Economica Federal, another client of the agency.

We want to give our appreciation for the efforts of all UNICA professionals, Borghi/Lowe and other service providers, which directly contributed to the success of the campaign. It was an intense job that lasted over a year and is now getting due recognition added Farina. And we can not forget the excellent work of Lúcio Mauro Filho, who is a true ally of ethanol.

UNICA Asks Gov’t to Educate Country About Ethanol

UNICABrazil’s sugar cane growers are asking for some help from that country’s government to educate the public about ethanol. Elizabeth Farina, the President of the Union of the Industry of Cane Sugar Association (UNICA), said the industry needs to overcome prejudices caused by inadequate public policies and interference in the fuel market that hurts ethanol’s competitiveness. To that end, the Parliamentary Front for the Enhancement of the Sugarcane Industry, was officially launched in the capitol city of Brasilia.

“It is very important that society knows that even with negative results in recent years and at the expense of a growing indebtedness and dangerous for the industry, companies have invested heavily in technology to improve performance, increase production and improve sustainability. Unfortunately, the good results on the production side are not translating into financial returns. The nominal average price paid by the ethanol plant is decreasing in the last three years, while the costs of structural and cyclical production has grown relentlessly,” says Farina.

Just last year, more than $4 billion was spent on sugarcane plantation renovations and expansions in Brazil’s South Central region, representing a significant investment in that area’s economy, in addition to the money spent on infrastructure to help the biofuels industry.

“All this does not take into account the increasing resources dedicated to the development of cellulosic ethanol or second generation. It is no coincidence that our companies today get between 7 and 8 thousand liters of ethanol per hectare, while the production of ethanol from corn in the United States, does not exceed 4000 liters per hectare,” stressed the president of UNICA.

UNICA also points out that Brazilian ethanol is recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as an advanced biofuel.

Why Sugarcane Ethanol is Essential to RFS

There is a significant amount of attention being paid to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) but one area that hasn’t been talked about much is the role of sugarcane ethanol in the RFS. To learn more, I spoke with Leticia Phillips the representative for North America with UNICA – the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association.

She said that under the RFS, Brazilian sugarcane ethanol is classified as an “other advanced biofuel” and by 2022 this category of fuel is to contribute 4 billions gallons to the fuel supply. Phillips said that today, sugarcane Leticia Phillipsethanol is the best performing biofuel commercially available today. According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculations, sugarcane ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by at least 61 percent when compared to traditional fuel, i.e. gasoline.

Today, sugarcane ethanol represents 3 percent of all fuels under the RFS, but it is actually one quarter of the advanced pool of the fuels for the RFS. Phillips says it plays a pretty important role and provides a secure flow of biofuels.

Brazilian sugarcane ethanol has been under fire because its not “American-made” and also because many argue it doesn’t have the GHG emission reductions that the EPA says it does. I asked Leticia why UNICA believes push-back on the biofuel is misplaced.

Leticia said from her viewpoint is that the RFS doesn’t specify that the fuel must be made in America, but rather the goal is to reduce carbon emissions. “The goal should also be to help America become energy secure and energy diverse,” explained Phillips. She said that energy security and energy independence both mean looking at where the country can get better performing biofuels for the program.

While she understands some of the push-back from the market, she stressed that a bigger problem with the RFS today is the so-called “blend wall” issue coupled with the fact that American fuel use is dwindling – a scenario no one anticipated when the RFS was created.

To learn more, listen to my interview with Leticia Phillips here: Why Sugarcane Ethanol is Essential to the RFS

For more information on sugarcane ethanol, visit UNICA’s sugarcane website.

Brazilian Biofuel Trade Mission

A first-of-its-kind joint trade mission to Brazil has been scheduled to “improve and enhance biofuels trade by matching businesses seeking greater trade opportunities in ethanol and other biofuels as well as green technology designed to expand and enhance biofuel production.”

brazilApproximately 15 companies will be selected for the mission, which is the product of a partnership between the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA), and the Advanced Biofuel Association (ABFA), targeting the Brazilian cities of São Paulo and Recife.

The trade mission, which will be held Sept. 30 to Oct. 2, will focus on introducing importers and exporters of biofuel and biofuel technology, in an effort to enhance bilateral relationships and enhance trade opportunities. The effort was engineered through a partnership between the aforementioned biofuel advocates, and the Brazil-U.S. Business Council (BUSBC), which represents key businesses from the United States and Brazil that have interests in promoting free trade between the two countries. The BUSBC, which is a part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is helping to administer the matchmaking mission as part of its Export Green Initiative, which was created through funding from the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce to promote U.S. exports of renewable and green commodities and technologies.

Learn more about the mission here.

UnicaData Goes Live Providing Cane Industry Data

The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) has unveiled new industry data and statistics. UnicaData is a customizable tool designed to provide detailed industry information focused on the cane industry in Brazil. The free data is derived from third party institutions and features information on areas such as:


  • Sugarcane harvest
  • Quality of harvested cane
  • Harvest projections
  • Sugarcane production and processing
  • Sugarcane acreage
  • Consumption
  • Exports and imports

Luciano Rodrigues, manager of UNICA’s Economics Department, said most of the data available should provide nearly all the information on the sugarcane industry needed. “On this first stage, we added the most sought after data as indicated by web searches involving our industry. We will continue to analyse the demand and gradually enhance and expand the content.”

Along with the ability to search for published reports, the tool can also develop customized reports as requested by a user. In the future, UNICA will enhance and expand the data provided.

UNICA Announces Interim CEO

The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) today announced the appointment of an interim CEO to replace Marcos Jank, who announced his resignation on March 27th.

unicaUNICA’s Board of Directors has named the organization’s Technical Director, Antonio de Padua Rodrigues, to serve as interim CEO during the selection process, now underway, for a new chief executive.

A member of the executive team at UNICA since 1990, Rodrigues has been in the sugar-energy industry for more than 30 years and is the organization’s Technical Director since 2003. He is a former Administrative and Financial Coordinator of the Brazilian government’s National Program for the Improvement of Sugarcane, known as Planalsucar, and was also Administrative and Financial Supervisor for projects backed by Industry and Technology Secretariat at the Federal Industry, Trade and Technology Ministry. In 1983, he played a leading role in the introduction of SPCTS, the Sugarcane Payment System by Saccarosis Content, where he remained as a Consultant until 1990.

unicaMarcos Jank became Board Chairman and CEO at UNICA in July of 2007 and has since spearheaded a period of significant achievements for the sugar-energy industry.

Accomplishments include a much more intense dialogue with all levels of government; progress in various areas relating to labor, the environment, social concerns and the regulatory framework; and the establishment of a strong international presence with offices launched in Washington, D.C. and Brussels. These were crucial steps for the non-renewal at the end of 2011 of the steep tariff imposed by the United States on imported ethanol.

“It has been a great honor to serve an industry that is so important to national life and is increasingly vital for the planet, given the growing range of low carbon solutions that sugarcane offers; the sector has a very promising future and I’m sure that the work done so far will provide a solid base for the progress that we will witness in the future,” said Jank, who brought forward his departure from UNICA because of national and international commitments linked to future activities in his professional life.

Brazil Expects More Cane and More Ethanol in 2012

Brazil is expecting more sugarcane and more ethanol production in 2012.

UNICAAccording to the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA), the forecast for the 2012/2013 sugarcane harvest calls for 509 million tons, up 3.19% compared to the total amount of sugarcane processed in the previous harvest, which totalled 493.26 million tons.

Data collected by UNICA, together with satellite image mapping of the South-Central region obtained from the National Institute for Space Research (CANASAT-INPE), indicates an expansion of 3% in the total area planted with sugarcane and available for the 2012/2013 harvest while no significant gains in agricultural productivity are anticipated.

Of the total projected sugarcane crush for the 2012/2013 harvest, UNICA estimates over half of the sugarcane in the 2012/2013 season (51.25%) will be used for ethanol production, which is expected to reach 21.49 billion liters, up 4.58% from last year’s 20.55 billion liters. That total includes 14.54 billion liters of hydrous ethanol, up 11% from last year, and the rest anhydrous, a drop of almost 7%.

UNICA is projecting a drop in anhydrous ethanol production because during six months of the 2011/2012 harvest, Brazil’s mandatory ethanol blend with gasoline remained at the 25% level, 5% above the 20% blend currently in place. The organization notes that the projected production for each type of ethanol in the new harvest was calculated considering the current blend rate. “Should the percentage required by the government change during the harvest, hydrous and anhydrous ethanol volumes will also be revised by UNICA.” UNICA is also projected a drop of more than 8% in ethanol exports, which would bring the exported total down to 1.70 billion liters, compared to 1.85 billion liters in the 2011/2012 harvest.

According to UNICA Technical Director Antonio de Padua Rodrigues, current estimates indicate that the Brazilian fleet of flex-fuel automobiles and motorcycles will increase by 7% during the 2012/2013 harvest, an expansion rate that’s slightly below the projected increase in production o hydrous ethanol. “This means we are likely to observe a slight increase in the consumption of hydrous ethanol by flex-fuel vehicles during the next harvest,” he said.

Brazil Ethanol Sales Down

A lower percentage of ethanol required to be blended with gasoline in Brazil is resulting in lower ethanol sales, according to the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA).

UNICAUNICA reports that ethanol sales by mills in the South-Central region totaled 1.29 billion liters in January, a drop of 32.32% compared to the 1.90 billion liters sold during the same period in 2011. Of this year’s total for January, 1.24 billion liters remained in the domestic market and only 42.44 million liters were exported.

January anhydrous ethanol sales totaled 483.91 million liters, down from 584.38 million liters during the same period of last year. As for hydrous ethanol, 760.40 million liters were sold during the month, down sharply from 1.23 billion liters during the same period of the 2010/2011 harvest.

The drop in anhydrous ethanol sales is the result of a cut in the amount of ethanol blended with gasoline which went into effect in 2011, according to UNICA Technical Director Antonio de Padua Rodrigues. “If the blend level had remained at 25%, sales in January 2012 would have been greater than in January of 2011,” he added.

UNICA Supports End of Ethanol Tariff

Earlier this week, the Senate compromised on some ethanol legislation that would eliminate the ethanol blenders tax credit (VEETC) at the end of this month. The agreement also eliminates the ethanol tariff on July 31, 2011, five months ahead of the original expiration date of December 31, 2011. The bipartisan Ethanol Reform and Deficit Reduction Act was submitted by U.S. Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Amy Kobuchar (D-MN) and sought to transition to a more sustainable model of renewable fuel incentives.

The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) was pleased with the news and has been lobbying for several years to eliminate the ethanol tariff. Brazil eliminated its ethanol tariff early last year. Leticia Phillips, UNICA’s representative in North America said, “As the world’s top producers of ethanol, the U.S. and Brazil should lead by example in creating a free market for clean, renewable energy.”

Phillips noted that last month, the U.S. Senate voted to end ethanol subsidies and UNICA looks forward to continue to work with Congressional leaders to accomplish that goal.

“We thank Senator Feinstein for her leadership on this important issue and urge Congress to pass it as soon as possible,” continued Phillips. “Ending the 30-year-old tariff on imported ethanol will help lower fuel prices and provide Americans with greater access to clean and affordable renewable fuels like sugarcane ethanol.”

She concluded, “Consumers win when businesses have to compete in an open market, because competition produces higher quality products at lower costs. The same principle holds true for renewable fuels. Allowing other alternative fuels like sugarcane ethanol to compete fairly in the U.S. will save Americans money, cut dependence on Middle East oil and improve the environment.”

Ironically, earlier this week Bloomberg reported that the Brazilian government is considering lowering the country’s ethanol requirement from 25 percent to 18 percent due to several back-to-back reduced sugarcane harvests.

UNICA Launches Sugarcane Website

The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) recently launched a new website to promote “clean solutions from sugarcane.” was launched during the 2011 Ethanol Summit in São Paulo, Brazil. “We decided to launch this new site to share knowledge and information with a growing global community of people who want to know how their food and energy choices affect our environment and people worldwide,” said UNICA’s President and CEO, Marcos Jank. “Today, sugarcane is the basic input for a diverse and growing range of value-added products, including sugar, ethanol, bioelectricity, bioplastics, bio-hydrocarbons, among others being developed. Sugarcane by-products are efficient and sustainable solutions that can replace gasoline, diesel, plastics and beyond that. Just imagine. Solutions from sugarcane,” Jank said.