In Brazil ethanol is mainly produced from sugar and, as it produces up to 70% less carbon when combusted in vehicle engines that can now be easily converted to use this liquid ‘biofuel’ it has been a favoured by energy, car and food producers. The Brazilian ethanol sector expanded in the 21st century as a result of considerable government support and a tripling of international investment in sugar and ethanol production between 2003 and 2011 in line with national, EU and international renewable energy policy.
Figure 5.1 Sugarcane, sugar and ethanol production, 1990-2013, Brazil. Source: www.unica.com
Large oil firms such as Petrobras and Shell quickly became dominant in Brazil while BP invested in sugar-ethanol plants in Goiás, Brazil and in wheat-ethanol in Hull, UK. There was subsequent doubling of land use for sugar cane growth in Brazil and as much as a seven-fold increase in regions such as Quírinopolis, as demonstrated below.
Figure 5.2 Topography and drainage system of study region in SW region of Goiás, Brazil
Figure 5.3 Increase in coverage by sugar cane from 2006 (green) to 2014 (yellow) in study region in SW Goiás.
Figure 5.4 Increase in sugar cane cultivation by hectare in the State of Goiás, Brazil 2000-2013. Source www2.seplan.go.gov.br/bde/ Accessed 15/05/2015. Organised by M Mendonça.