Forum to explore Brazil-SA biofuel & energy partnerships

  • Brazil to present low carbon solutions at Policy Forum on Bioenergy, Bioelectricity and Biofuels
  • Sugarcane-to-power opportunities for SA

The Embassy of Brazil in South Africa is set to host a high-level Policy Forum in Pretoria in March 2020, to highlight Brazil-SA collaboration opportunities in the fields of Bioenergy, Bioelectricity and Biofuels.

Introduced in the 1970s as a strategy to reduce Brazil’s dependence on oil, the use of ethanol as fuel in the transport sector evolved over the past 45 years and sugarcane derivatives have become the second main source of domestic energy supply. In the country’s energy matrix, which has 45% coming from renewables, sugarcane derivatives account for more than 17.0% of Brazil´s total primary energy generation, only behind petroleum and its derivatives (34.4%) and ahead of hydropower (12.4%).

Brazil is now the world’s second largest producer and exporter of ethanol and 65% of the country’s sugarcane crop is now destined for ethanol production – up significantly from 54% in 2017/18. It is proportionally the largest consumer of ethanol in its transport matrix (19%), with ethanol already replacing 40% of gasoline.

In addition, bagasse is an energy source for steam production when manufacturing ethanol and sugar. Bioelectricity generated from sugarcane biomass is partly consumed in the plants, contributing to assure their self-sufficiency, and partly exported to the national grid. In 2018, 61% of sugarcane biomass in bioelectricity generation were exported to the grid, which over the last ten years represented a total injection of 150 TWh.

The production of ethanol and bioelectricity has also delivered significant benefits in terms of job creation and mitigation of green house gas emissions, avoiding from 2008 to 2018 the emission of 560 MtCO2. By using liquid biofuels, Brazil has considerably lowered emissions of particulate matter (MP2.5), carbon monoxide, formaldehydes, reactive hydrocarbons and other volatile organic compounds precursory to photochemical smog and ozone formation, greatly contributing to urban air quality.

South Africa, which already counts on competitive sugar industries, has been identified by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) as having potential for the expansion of sustainable bioenergy production from sugarcane, which might contribute to the achievement of the objectives expressed in the NDP 2030 and the IRP 2019.  To harness its potential, discussions on policy framework, expertise and technology must take place.

The Embassy of Brazil in South Africa, with the support of APLA (the Brazilian ‘Ethanol Cluster’) and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) will host a Policy Forum to facilitate cooperation and dialogue between experts, policy makers, regulators and industry representatives on how to use bioenergy, bioelectricity and biofuels in South Africa.

The Policy Forum will be staged in Pretoria on Monday 16 March 2020.  For more information, contact Lindi Coetzer on 011-782 2627 or email

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