Brazil Plans to Increase Ethanol Production


Brazil plans to increase its production of ethanol, a fuel that is made out of sugarcane and is used instead of gasoline. The South American country is the second largest ethanol producer after the USA. Foreign companies are expected to invest more into the industry in the years to come.

Brazil wants to expand its ethanol production from 7 billion gallons a year to 17 billion gallons by the end of the decade. The past two years have shown a downturn of ethanol production, partly because of the global economic crisis and partly because of the rising sugar price which makes sugar production more profitable to farmers.

Energy companies plan to step up their investment in Brazilian ethanol production. Shell and BP are two of the major petroleum companies that have signed a deal with ethanol companies and are willing to invest in infrastructure that the industry badly needs. One of the major projects is a pipeline that will bring sugar-cane based ethanol from the production areas to the big cities on the coast.

Sugar production plant in Brazil that produces sugar, ethanol and other products

Sugar production plant in Brazil that produces sugar, ethanol and other products - Mariordo 

The Brazilian ethanol production started in the 1970s in an attempt to find an alternative to fossil fuels. Since then ethanol production has been constantly on the rise. The big breakthrough came after 2000 when more and more car producers started introducing flex-fuel cars that can run on ethanol and petrol. More than half of all cars produced in Brazil have such engines.

Although most of Brazil’s ethanol is used at home more and more is exported to other countries. Almost a fifth of its production goes abroad, mostly to the United States and Japan. Currently the United States puts a 54 cent import tax on ethanol because they want to protect their own ethanol industry which makes fuel out of corn. This import tariff will expire at the end of the year, making Brazilian ethanol more affordable in the US.

Brazil’s ethanol industry wants to expand across the Atlantic as well. European Union countries are planning to increase the use of ethanol, even though import taxes are higher than in the US.

In the meantime discussion has been going on about the effects ethanol production has on the environment. Experts say that sugarcane based ethanol produces 61 % less greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels. Many environmentalists however are worried that cutting down rainforests in Brazil for sugarcane production will have a worsening effect on the environment.



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  • abroad = to another country
  • affordable = to have enough money to buy something
  • although = while
  • attempt = try
  • billion = a thousand millions
  • breakthrough  = step forward, success
  • constantly = always
  • currently = right now
  • deal = contract, agreement
  • decade = ten years
  • downturn = to go down
  • effect = outcome
  • emission = gas or other substance that is  sent into the air
  • environment = the world around us
  • environmentalist = a person who is worried about the world around us
  • even though = while
  • expand = to grow, make bigger
  • expire =end
  • flex-fuel = two ways of producing energy
  • foreign = from another country
  • fossil fuel = form of energy, like coal, oil or gas,  that is produced form dead plants and animals
  • gallon = about 4 litres
  • gasoline = petrol
  • global = worldwide
  • greenhouse gas = a gas, especially carbon dioxide, that is trapped in the atmosphere and leads to global warming
  • import tax = money that a country collects for a product that is imported
  • in the meantime = time between two events
  • increase = to go up
  • infrastructure = basic systems that are needed
  • instead of = in something’s place
  • introduce = to bring out for the first time
  • major = very big
  • petrol = gasoline
  • profitable = to earn more money
  • protect = defend, guard
  • sign = to put your name on a document
  • sugarcane = a tropical plant that has sugar in its stems
  • sugarcane-based = from sugarcane
  • tariff = tax
  • worsening = to become worse