Ethanol Production: Energy and Economic Issues Related to U.S. and Brazilian Sugarcane

  • David Pimentel
  • Tad W. Patzek

Abstract

This analysis employs the most recent scientific data for the U.S. and for Brazil sugarcane production and the fermentation/distillation. These two countries were selected because they are the two largest countries in the world producing ethanol. All current fossil energy inputs used in the entire process of producing ethanol from sugarcane were included to determine the entire energy cost for ethanol production. Additional costs to consumers, including federal and state subsidies, plus costs of environmental pollution and/or degradation associated with the entire production system are discussed. The economic and the broad human food supply issues are evaluated. In addition, other studies are compared.

Keywords

Converting biomass energy costs environmental costs subsidization 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Blais, J.F., Mamouny, K., Nlombi, K., Sasseville, J.L., & Letourneau, M. (1995). Les mesures deficacite energetique dans le secteur de leau. (In J.L Sassville & J.F. Balis (Eds.), Les Mesures deficacite Energetique pour Lepuration des eaux Usees Municipales: Scientific Report 405, Vol. 3, INRS-Eau, Quebec.).Google Scholar
  2. Boddey, R.M. (1995). Biological nitrogen fixation in sugarcane: a key energetically viable bio-fuel production. CRC Critical Review in Plant Science, 14, 263–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. BP. (2001). British Petroleum statistical review of the world energy. June 2001. (New York: Morgan Guaranty Trust Company of New York).Google Scholar
  4. BP. (2005). British Petroleum statistical review of the world energy. June 2001. (Providence, RI: J. P. Morgan Chase Bank).Google Scholar
  5. Braunbeck, O., Bauen, A., Rosillo-Calle, F., & Cortez, L. (1999). Prospects for green cane harvesting and cane residue use in Brazil. Biomass and Bioenergy, 17, 495–506.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Breaux, J. & Salassi, M.F. (2003). Projected costs and returns – Sugarcane in Louisiana, 2003. Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station. Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness. Bull., No. 211, 38pp.Google Scholar
  7. Broietti, M.H. (2003). Os assalariados rurais temporaries da Cana. (San Paulo Plano Editoracao).Google Scholar
  8. Brown, L.R. (1997). The agricultural link: How environmental deterioration could disrupt economic progress. (Washington, DC: Worldwatch Institute).Google Scholar
  9. Calibre. (2006). DJ Brazilian sugar millers fix prices as futures jump. Retrieved April 25, 2006 from http:/caliber.mworld.com/m/m.w?lp=GetStory&id=190618291Google Scholar
  10. Cancado, J.E.D., Saldiva, P.H.N., Pereira, L.A.A., Lara, L.B.L.S., Artaxo, P., Martinelli, L.A., Arbex, L.A., Zonobetti, A., & Braga, A.L.F. (2006). Impact of sugar cane-burning emissions on the respiratory system of children and the elderly. Environmental Health Perspectives, 114 (5), 725–729.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chang, J. (2006). Difficult road for ethanol in Brazil. Knight Ridder, May 2, 2006. 2pp.Google Scholar
  12. CIA. (2005). Brazil natural gas. The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook. Retrieved September 5, 2005 from http://www.photius.com/countries/brazil/economy/brazil_economy_natural_gas.htmlGoogle Scholar
  13. Coelho, S.T., Bolognini, M.F., Silva, O.C., & Paletta, C.E.M. (2002). Biofuels in Brazil: The current situation. CENBIO –The National Reference Center on Biomass. Technical Texts. Retrieved November 12, 2002 from http://www.cenbio.org.br/in/index.htmlGoogle Scholar
  14. Corn-Ethanol. (2007). Corn-based ethanol: Is this a solution? The Oil Drum. Retrieved June 15, 2007 from http://www/theoildrum.com/node/2615Google Scholar
  15. DeJong-Hughes, J. (2005). Soil compaction: What you can do? Minnesota Crop e-News, University of Minnesota, Extension.Google Scholar
  16. DOE. (2002). Review of transport issues and comparison of infrastructure costs for a renewable fuels standard: U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, DC. Retrieved October 8, 2002 from http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/FTPROOT/service/question3.pdfGoogle Scholar
  17. DOE. (2005). Energy efficiency and renewable energy: U.S. Department of Energy. Washington DC. Retrieved January 6, 2006 from http://www1.eere.energy.gov/biomass/ethanol.htmlGoogle Scholar
  18. FAO. (2002). Food balance sheets. (Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)Google Scholar
  19. Ferguson, A.R.B. (2004). Sugarcane and energy: Optimum Population Trust. July 20, 1999, 9pp.Google Scholar
  20. Gamble, R. (2003). Lease agreements for farm buildings. Factsheet. Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Ontario, Canada. Retrieved October 24, 2007 from http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/busdev/facts/03-095.htmGoogle Scholar
  21. Gara, L. (2006). New oil “tax” charges Alaskans for BP pipeline failures; Gives away $5+ billion in state revenue. Alaska State Legislature. Retrieved August 27, 2006 from http://gara/akde,pmcrats/orgGoogle Scholar
  22. Hodge, C. (2002). Ethanol use in US gasoline should be banned, not expanded. Oil and Gas Journal, September 9, 20–30.Google Scholar
  23. Hodge, C. (2003). More evidence mounts for banning, not expanding, use of ethanol in gasoline. Oil and Gas Journal, October 6, 20–25.Google Scholar
  24. Hodge, C. (2005). Government and fuels: Increased air pollution with the consumption of ethanol in gasoline. Retrieved October 10, 2005 from http://www.arb.ca.gov/fuels/gasoline/meeting/2005/0502052ndopiGoogle Scholar
  25. Hoffman, T.R., Warnock, W.D., & Hinman, H.R. (1994). Crop enterprise budgets; timothy-legume and alfalfa hay, Sudan grass, sweet corn and spring wheat under rill irrigation; Kittitas County, Washington. Farm Business Reports EB 1173, Pullman, Washington State University.Google Scholar
  26. Illinois Corn. (2004). Ethanol’s energy balance. Retrieved August 10, 2004 from http://www.ilcorn.org/Ethanol/Ethan_Studies/Ethan_Energy_Bal/ethan_energy_bal.htmlGoogle Scholar
  27. Kim, Y. (2002). World exotic diseases. (In D. Pimentel (Ed.),Biological invasions: Economic and environmental costs of alien plant, animal, and microbe species (pp. 331–354). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press)Google Scholar
  28. Koplow, D. (2006). Biofuels—at what cost? Government support for ethanol and biodiesel in the United States. The Global Initiative (GSI) of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). Retrieved October 10, 2007 from http://www.globalsubsidies.org/IMG/pdf/biofuels_subsidies_us.pdfGoogle Scholar
  29. Kuby, W.R., Markoja, R., & Nackford, S. (1984). Testing and Evaluation of On-Farm AlcoholProduction Facilities. Acures Corporation. Industrial Environmental Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinatti, OH. 100pp.Google Scholar
  30. Liu, D.L. & Helyar, K.R. (2003). Simulation of season stalk water content and fresh weight yield of sugarcane. Field Crops Research, 82(1), 59–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Macedo, I.C., Leal, M.R.L.V., & da Silva, J.E.A.R. (2004).Assessment of greenhouse gas emissions in the production and use of fuel ethanol in Brazil. Government of the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Secretariat of the Environment, 36 pp.Google Scholar
  32. Maiorella, B. (1985). Ethanol. (In H.W. Blanch, S. Drew & D.I.C. Wang (Eds.), Comprehensive biotechnology, Vol. 3, New York: Pergamon Press).Google Scholar
  33. McCain, J. (2003). Statement of Senator McCain on the Energy Bill. Press Release. Wednesday, November 19, 2003.Google Scholar
  34. Mongabay. (2006). Deforestation in the Amazon. Retrieved August 22, 2006 from http://www.mongabay.com/brazil.htmlGoogle Scholar
  35. NAS. (2003). Frontiers in agricultural research: Food, health, environment, and communities. (Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences).Google Scholar
  36. National Center for Policy Analysis. (2002). Ethanol subsidies. Idea House. National Center for Policy Analysis. Retrieved September 9, 2002 from http://www.ncpa.org/pd/ag/ag6.htmlGoogle Scholar
  37. NCGA. 2006. Ethanol and coproducts. Oil industry subsidies. Retrieved August 27, 2006 from http://www.ncga.com/Ethanol/publicPolicy/subsidies.aspGoogle Scholar
  38. Newton, P.W. (2001). Human settlements theme report. Australian State of the Environment Report 2001. Retrieved October 6, 2005 from http://www.environment.gov.au/soe/2001/settlements/settlements02-5c.htmlGoogle Scholar
  39. Niven, R.K. (2005). Ethanol in gasoline: Environmental impacts and sustainability. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 9(6), 535–555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Patzek, T.W. (2004). Thermodynamics of the corn-ethanol biofuel cycle. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences, 23(6), 519–567.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Patzek, T.W. & Pimentel, D. (2005). Thermodynamics of energy production from Biomass. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences, 24, (5–6), 327–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Pimentel, D. (1980). Handbook of energy utilization in agriculture. (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press)Google Scholar
  43. Pimentel, D. (2003). Ethanol fuels: energy balance, economics, and environmental impacts are negative. Natural Resources Research, 12(2), 127–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Pimentel, D. (2006). Soil erosion: a food and environmental threat. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 8(1), 119–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pimentel, D. & Pimentel, M. (1996). Food, energy and society. (Boulder, CO: Colorado University Press).Google Scholar
  46. Pimentel, D. & Patzek, T.W. (2005). Ethanol Production using corn, switchgrass, and wood; biodiesel production using soybean and sunflower. Natural Resources and Research, 14(1), 65–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Pimentel, D., Berger, B., Filberto, D., Newton, M., Wolfe, B., Karabinakis, E., Clark, S., Poon, E., Abbett, E., & Nandagopal, S. (2004). Water resources: current and future issues.BioScience, 54(10), 909–918Google Scholar
  48. Pimentel, D., Cooperstein, S., Randell, H., Filiberto, D., Sorrentino, S., Kaye, B., Nicklin, C., Yagi, J., Brian, J., O’Hern, J., Habas, A., & Weinstein, C. (2006). Ecology of increasing diseases: population growth and environmental degradation. Human Ecology 35(6),653–668.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Pimentel, D., Patzek, T., & Cecil, G. (2007). Ethanol production: energy, economic, and environmental losses. Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 189,25–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. PRB. (2006). World population data sheet. (Washington, DC: Population Reference Bureau)Google Scholar
  51. Rosillo-Calle, F. & Cortez, L.A. (1998). Towards proAlcool II – a review of the Brazilian bioethanol program. Biomass and Bioenergy, 14(2), 115–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sartori, M.M.P. & Basta, C. (1999). Methodos matematicos para o calculo enegetico da producao de cana-de-acucar. Energia na Agricultra, 14(1), 52–68.Google Scholar
  53. Schmitz, T., Schmitz, G.A., & Seale, J.L. (2003). Brazil’s ethanol program: the case of hidden sugar subsidies. International Sugar Journal, 105(1254), 254–256, 258–265.Google Scholar
  54. Schneider, S.H., Rosencranz, A., & Niles, J.O. (2002). Climate change policy change. (Washington, DC: Island Press)Google Scholar
  55. Sparovek, G. & Schung, E. (2001). Temporal erosion-induced soil degradation and yield loss. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 65, 1479–1486.Google Scholar
  56. Spirits Low. (1999). Spirits low as Brazil alcohol car in trouble anew. Reuters Limited. Retrieved November 22, 1999 from http://www.climateark.org/articles/1999/alcocaro.htmGoogle Scholar
  57. Taganrog. (2004–2006). Taganrog combine-harvester factory. Retrieved August 24, 2006 from http://www.tagaonrocity.com/tkz.htmlGoogle Scholar
  58. Troeh, F.R., Hobbs, J.A., & Donahue, R.L. (2004). Soil and water conservation. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall).Google Scholar
  59. USCB. (2004–2005). Statistical abstract of the United States 2004–2005. U.S. Census Bureau (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office)Google Scholar
  60. USDA. (2004). Agricultural statistics. (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office)Google Scholar
  61. Wald, M.I. (2006). Corn farmers smile as ethanol prices rise, but experts on food supplies worry. New York Times (National), A, p.13. January 16, 2006. Retrieved October 24, 2007 from http://archives.foodsafetynetwork.ca/agnet/2006/1-2006/agnet_jan_16.htm#story4Google Scholar
  62. Wereko-Brobby, C. & Hagan, E.B. (1996). Biomass conversion and technology. (Chichester: John Wiley & Sons)Google Scholar
  63. WHO. (2006). Malnutrition Worldwide. Source: World Health Organization. Retrieved August 27, 2006 from http://www.mikeschoice.com/reports/malnutrition_worldwide.htmGoogle Scholar
  64. Worldwatch Institute. (2001). Vital signs. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company)Google Scholar
  65. Youngquist, W. (1997). GeoDestinies: The inevitable control of earth resources over nations and individuals. (Portland, OR: National Book Company)Google Scholar
  66. Youngquist, W. & Duncan, R.C. (2003). North American natural gas: data show supply problems. Natural Resources Research, 12(4), 229–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Pimentel
    • 1
  • Tad W. Patzek
    • 2
  1. 1.College of Agriculture and Life SciencesCornell UniversityIthaca
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeley

Personalised recommendations