Brazil ethanol industry needs technology investments – Raizen

27 March 2012 22:01  [Source: ICIS news]

SAO PAULO (ICIS)--The Brazilian ethanol sector will have to invest more in new technologies if it wants to grow and meet an expected increase in demand in the coming years, a top executive with biofuels group Raizen said on Tuesday.

Brazil’s ethanol industry invests only 0.10 Brazilian reais (R) ($0.06, €0.05) for each tonne of sugarcane produced, said Pedro Isamu Mizutani, Raizen’s vice president for ethanol, sugar and bio-energy.

"It is too little," he said. 

“It not enough to rely on government policy…we need to do our part too and invest in technology," the executive added.

Brazil had no gains in sugarcane productivity in the last 10 years, he said, adding that yields actually fell in the last five years.

Sugarcane yields, which used to average 90 tonnes/hectare, fell to 70 tonnes/hectare recently, Mizutani said, attributing the drop to extremely dry weather and frost in the last two years.

Brazil needs a technological breakthrough and that will not happen as long as the sector invests only R0.10/tonne in technology, he added.

Sugarcane is a long-term investment, he noted, calling on the sector to not limit its strategy to only short-term profits.

“It can take five years to know if a new variety of sugarcane will work,” he told delegates at FO Licht’s 8th annual Sugar and Ethanol Brazil conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Raizen is a joint venture between Shell and Brazilian ethanol group Cosan.

The company has 2.2bn litres/year of ethanol capacity, according to information on its website.

The 2012 Sugar and Ethanol Brazil conference opened on Tuesday. The two-day event was organised in partnership with IBC Brasil.

($1 = €0.75)

By: William Lemos
+1 713 525 2653

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