MYTHS AND FACTS

Sugarcane Bioelectricity

Bioelectricity is not a clean energy source.

Sugarcane Bioelectricity

Myth.

Brazilian sugarcane mills learned to harness the energy stored in biomass by burning sugarcane bagasse and straw in high-efficiency boilers to produce bioelectricity. Mills are energy self-sufficient, and any surplus energy is sold to the grid. In 2019, sugarcane mills supplied more than 22,500 GWh to the grid, or 5% of Brazil’s electricity requirements.

Sugarcane Bioelectricity
Sugarcane Bioelectricity
Sugarcane Bioelectricity
Sugarcane Bioelectricity

Is bioelectricity weaker than other electricity sources?

Sugarcane Bioelectricity

Myth.

The electricity generated by sugarcane biomass, known as bioelectricity, has the same industrial and commercial applications as any other electricity source. In 2019, sugarcane mills supplied more than 22,500 GWh, or 5% of Brazil’s electricity requirements, thanks to sugarcane bioelectricity. Experts estimate that with full use of sugarcane residues, bioelectricity could reach 148,000 GWh, enough to power an entire country the size of Argentina or Norway.

Sugarcane Bioelectricity
Sugarcane Bioelectricity
Sugarcane Bioelectricity
Sugarcane Bioelectricity

Bioelectricity is not a reliable source.

Sugarcane Bioelectricity

Myth.

The increase in ethanol production, due to new policies on renewable fuels across the world, has also led to an increase in bioelectricity production. In Brazil, the RenovaBio program expects to drive an increase in ethanol production from 27 million litres to 54 billion liters by 2030. Meanwhile, bioeletricity generation is expected to grow 50% by 2027.

Sugarcane Ethanol

Does ethanol damage car engines?

Sugarcane Bioelectricity

Myth.

There is no part of an engine that can be harmed with ethanol use. In fact, ethanol is a high octane fuel that can improve an engine’s performance. It also leaves less dirt deposits on the injector nozzles, keeping the engine cleaner than fossil fuels and closer to new through it’s entire lifecycle.

Sugarcane Ethanol
Sugarcane Ethanol

Does ethanol production compete with food supply?

Sugarcane Bioelectricity

Myth.

In 2019, sugarcane for ethanol production in Brazil occupied 5,7 million hectares, or roughly 0.7% of the country’s territory. Reports by the European Commission found that with large agricultural areas, high self-sufficiency in food and raw materials, and processes of urbanization already completed, Brazil has been able to harmonize domestic food security and biofuel production. In fact, the expansion of sugarcane production on degraded pastures with the parallel increased yields of food crops and livestock intensification has been said to have decreased land competition between food and sugarcane in recent years.

Sugarcane Ethanol
Sugarcane Ethanol

Aren’t EV’s better than ethanol vehicles?

Sugarcane Bioelectricity

Myth.

Electric vehicles (EV) are one of the solutions to decarbonize transport. In order to compare electric vehicles with ethanol-powered vehicles, we need to analyze the entire life-clyce of both, so we can make an accurate assessment.

Sugarcane Ethanol
Sugarcane Ethanol
Sugarcane Ethanol
Sugarcane Ethanol

Only pure ethanol is good for environment.

Sugarcane Bioelectricity

Myth.

Ethanol can be used pure or blended in any percentage with fossil fuels. Countries with ethanol mandates generally experience better air quality given the reduction in pollutant emissions as well as fewer CO2 emissions. São Paulo, the biggest city in Brazil which houses 12 million inhabitants, has experienced a 50% reduction in air pollution due to ethanol use. Rolling out an E10 baseline across the EU would already reduce road transport emissions by up to 15 million tons, in full compatibility with most existing vehicles on the road today.

Sugarcane Labor Conditions

After the end of sugarcane burning practices, all manual cutters became unemployed.

Sugarcane Bioelectricity

Myth.

The mechanization process started in 2007, after the voluntary signing of the Green Ethanol Protocol in São Paulo. Even though it displaced sugarcane cutters, this process created an intense requalifying program, upskilling and retraining 23 thousand employees to occupy new posts.

Sugarcane Labor Conditions
Sugarcane Labor Conditions

Sugarcane salaries are among the highest in agribusiness.

Sugarcane Bioelectricity

Fact.

From 2006 to 2016, real income gain in the sugarcane trade reached 35% for industry employees and 60% on average for rural employees. Today, a rural employee can expect to have an average income almost 92% higher than the minimun wage establish by Brazilian legislation.

Sugarcane Labor Conditions
Sugarcane Labor Conditions

The sugarcane industry follows labor best practices

Sugarcane Bioelectricity

Fact.

For over a decade UNICA and its members have has voluntarily committed to abide by a set of thirty best practices, which are audited by an independent third party.

Sugarcane Labor Conditions
Sugarcane Labor Conditions

Sugarcane workforce are mostly illiterate.

Sugarcane Bioelectricity

Myth.

The number of illiterate employees dropped from 120,910 in 2000 to 38,876 in 2016. Meanwhile, the number of employees that have studied for 13 years or more has risen from 12,101 to 43,489 in the same period.

Sugarcane Labor Conditions
Sugarcane Labor Conditions
Sugarcane Sugar

Is sugar responsible for obesity?

Sugarcane Bioelectricity

Myth.

Obesity is a disease that can’t be treated in isolation. Calorie ingestion must be taken seriously, given the severe impacts of consuming excessive sugar, excessive fat and not exercising. That’s why it’s so difficult to isolate one cause for obesity.

Sugarcane Sugar
Sugarcane Sugar
Sugarcane Sugar
Sugarcane Sugar
Sugarcane Sugar

Sugar free products are low in calories.

Sugarcane Bioelectricity

Myth.

Sugar-free does not mean calorie free, particularly in products that contain fat. When sugar is removed from a food, other ingredients need to take its place. Compare product labels to see what the entire nutrient package of a product is when making purchasing decisions.

Sugarcane Sugar

Can sugar be part of a healthy diet?

Sugarcane Bioelectricity

Fact.

Balanced meals and exercise are key to a healthy life. Sugar, or sucrose, is a carbohydrate found naturally in most fruits and vegetables. The ingredient is the main energy source for the body and brain, and also activates the neurotransmitter serotonin, responsible for pleasant and wellness feelings.

Sugarcane Sugar
Sugarcane Sugar
Sugarcane Sustainability
Sugarcane Sustainability

Does Brazilian sugarcane ethanol lead to deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest and other sensitive biomes?

Sugarcane Bioelectricity

Myth.

Almost 92% of sugarcane production for ethanol is harvested in South-Central Brazil, over 2,500 km (1,550 miles) from the Amazon. The remainder is grown in Northeastern Brazil, about the same distance from the Amazon’s easternmost fringe. That is roughly the distance between New York City and Dallas, or Paris and Moscow. Amazon region is in fact not a commercially viable location for producing sugarcane, due to the climactic conditions required for its growth.

Sugarcane Sustainability
Sugarcane Sustainability

Is sugarcane ethanol the cleanest liquid biofuel?

Sugarcane Bioelectricity

Fact.

First generation sugarcane ethanol can reduce, on average, up to 90% of CO2e when compared to fossil fuels. This is one of the lowest emission reductions achieved by any renewable fuel. Second generation sugarcane ethanol performs ever better, with a carbon footprint 35% lower than regular sugarcane ethanol.

Sugarcane Sustainability
Sugarcane Sustainability

Does fertilizer use in sugarcane production contaminate local water sources?

Sugarcane Bioelectricity

Myth.

Sugarcane cultivation uses vinasse, a by-product resulted from ethanol processing, for fertilization and irrigation. There is a technical standard by the São Paulo State Environmental Agency that guides storage, transport and application of vinasse in order to guarantee safe application, avoiding contamination and maximizing its functionality.

Sugarcane Sustainability
Sugarcane Sustainability

Is Brazilian sugarcane sustainable?

Sugarcane Bioelectricity

Fact.

Brazilian sugarcane industry follows strict labor and environmental standards. Sugarcane production process has improved tremendously over the years, increasing the sustainability of the sector. Most recently Brazil has adopted a national biofuels policy, Renovabio, that deamands zero deforestation. This policy will help place Brazilian sugarcane as one of the most sustainable crops in the world.

Sugarcane Sustainability