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Brazil and Indonesia in Ethanol Pact

Brazil will provide Indonesia with technical help to produce sugarcane ethanol under a pact just signed by the two nations.

Indonesia, with the fourth-largest population in the world (behind China, India, and the United States), wants to revitalize its agriculture sector and reduce its dependence on oil. A member of OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries), Indonesia became a net importer of oil in 2004.

The Indonesian government has marked US$1.42 billion for agricultural subsidies and recently signed agreements that will bring in another US$12.4 billion for biofuels development. (Earlier post.)

Indonesia currently produces mainly biodiesel, but wants to expand ethanol production from sugarcane and cassava. It is dedicating 2.25 million hectares of land to grow those crops for fuel.

The pact between Indonesia and Brazil comes among a number of recent developments—both domestic and international—for the Brazilian biofuels industry.

  • The US and Brazil agreed to promote ethanol as an alterative fuel, and to push for increased production in the Latin America and the Caribbean. (Earlier post.)

  • Brazil may begin commercial production of the cellulosic ethanol from sugarcane bagasse by 2012, according to an executive at Dedini SA said. Dedini is the world’s largest builder of sugarcane mills, and is already making small amounts of cellulosic ethanol at the same cost as from sugarcane juice.

  • A new Brazil-focused ethanol company—Brazilian Renewable Energy Company Ltd., (Brenco)—raised $200 million in a private placement this week. The company is backed by Vinod Khosla, Ron Burkle and Steve Case. The new company will be headed by Philippe Reichstul, the ex-president of Petrobras and plans to become one of the largest ethanol producers in the world. The goal is to reach an annual output of 1 billion gallons over the next 10 years.

  • Imports of Brazilian ethanol to Europe are likely to rise, according to the European Bioethanol Fuel Association Thursday.

  • Brazil may boost the required ethanol blend in gasoline to 25% from the current level of 23% by May. (Earlier post.)


Rafael Seidl

Indonesia's motivations here are reasonable enough but with a burgeoning population to feed, sugarcane will presumably be have to planted on land that is now covered by rain forest.


1) If corn ethanol is so great why is it being subsidized by $6 billion per year in the US alone ?

2) In fact, why are the subsidies per gallon of corn ethanol 90 times the subsidies for a
gallon of gasoline ? I am not for any subsidies.

3) 20% of U.S. corn is being converted into 5 billion gallons of ethanol that represents
only 1% of U.S. gas use ! If 100% of U.S. corn, ie, ALL our corn were converted
into ethanol, this would represent only 7% of U.S. gas use. What are your plans to reduce
daily gas use by 93% ? Are you prepared to tell everyone that there will be no corn left
for food ?

4) Why are the enormous environmental impacts of corn ethanol production not being taken into
account ?

5) Why do you keep ignoring that corn production causes more soil erosion than any other
crop grown ?

6) Why do you consistently ignore that corn production uses more nitrogen fertilizer than
any other crop grown ?

7 Why do you ignore that nitrogen runoff from the corn fields is the prime cause of the
dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico ?

8) Why do you ignore that corn production uses more insecticides than any other crop
grown ?

9) Why do you blatantly ignore that corn production uses more herbicides than any other
crop grown ?

10) Why do you ignore that more than 1,700 gallons of water are required to produce 1
gallon of ethanol ?

11) Why do you ignore that 6 to 12 gallons of sewage effluent are released per gallon of
corn ethanol produced ?

12) Why do you ignore that enormous quantities of carbon dioxide are produced, including
the large quantity of fossil energy used in production, large quantities of carbon
dioxide are released during fermentation, and when the soil is tilled soil organic matter
is exposed and oxidized ?

13) Why do you irresponsibly ignore that all the above speeds global warming instead of
reducing it ?

14)Why do you ignore that related to the total operation, including the burning of the
ethanol, the air, water & soil pollution problem are significant ?

15) Why do you ignore that several published scientific papers form UC Berkeley & Cornell
University (not pamphlets printed by the DOE, USDA or corn lobby pundits after taxpayers money)
show that one burns 1 gallon of gasoline equivalent in fossil fuels to produce 1 gallon of gasoline
equivalent as ethanol from corn ?

16) Why do you ignore that when this corn ethanol is burned as a gasoline additive or
fuel, its use amounts to burning the same amount of fuel twice to drive a car once ?

17) Why do you ignore that the fuel efficiency of those cars that burn corn ethanol is
effectively halved ?

18) Why do you ignore that the widespread
use of corn ethanol will cause manifold damage to air, surface water, soil and aquifers ?

19) Why do you ignore that the overall energy balance of corn conversion to ethanol
demonstrates that 65% of the input energy is lost during the conversion ?

20) Why do you ignore that carbon dioxide sequestration by corn is nullified when corn
ethanol is burned, and there will be additional carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides, and
sulfur oxide emissions from the fossil fuels used to produce the ethanol ?

21) What part of the above is not clear ?


hi Galileo,

What is your proposed alternative to gasoline? Or would you rather have the planet continue on its current path of blatant oil dependence?




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