Renewables growth in Latin America

Latin America especially Brazil seems to be an increasingly high growth renewable chems sector not only because of the plentiful (and more logistically organized) sugarcane feedstock source but its burgeoning economy is also an added attraction.

I wrote an article (subscription only) on ICIS Chemical Business about the bioplastic opportunity in Latin America now that Braskem opened its Green polyethylene shop and plans for a sugarcane-based polypropylene manufacturing facility as well. Amyris will soon produce farnesene-based chemicals in Brazil also using sugarcane feedstock, while Dow Chemical and Solvay are still planning to go ahead with their own sugar-based plastic.

According to Frost & Sullivan, Brazil’s bioplastic market in 2009 – mainly polylactic acid (PLA), starch-based and polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) resins – reached a volume of 1,286 tonnes and revenues of $4.4m. It is expected to reach a value of $618m by 2015, with 250,086 tonnes consumed locally.

Latin America’s share of global bioplastic production is estimated to reach 40% by 2013, according to US analyst firm Jefferies & Company. 

My ICIS colleagues attended the Latin American Petrochemical Association (APLA) annual meeting on November 6-9 in Rio de Janeiro, and reported several interesting information on renewable chems development.

Consulting firm McKinsey noted at the conference that chemical companies have the power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water usage at little costs. McKinsey also said that bio-based products could account for 8% of global chemical sales by 2012. 30% of consumers (worldwide? need to confirm this…) are said to be willing to pay as much as 10% premium for bio-based products.

Meanwhile, Braskem expects the renewable chemicals market to become a $59bn (€42bn) business by 2014. At the APLA conference, the company confirmed its plans to build a second Green PE plant (location not yet disclosed) with an annual capacity of 350,000 tonnes.

Braskem also plans to build a minimum 30,000 tonne/year green PP plant either in Triunfo or Sao Paulo, which is expected to come onstream by 2013.

When it comes to clean tech, consulting firm Nexant noted a rising renewable technology companies filing for initial public offering (IPO). Nexant noted chemical opportunities in the clean tech sector such as epoxy resins for wind turbines and ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) for encapsulants in photovoltaic panels.

Dow Chemical noted at the conference its strategies in the clean tech sector especially it’s new innovative product Powerhouse solar shingles. Dow also said it has recently developed a polyolefin-based encapsulate that could compete with the dominant material EVA.

New materials could also replace some of the expensive rare earths used in photovoltaics, according to Dow.

For more information, here are some of the APLA articles from ICIS News (subscription only):

APLA ’10: IPO interest rising for renewable tech firms – consultant

APLA ’10: Braskem predicts $59bn green chems market by 2014

APLA ’10: Design, new uses key for sustainable products – US Dow

APLA ’10: US Dow solar shingles overcome odd, varied obstacles 

APLA ’10: Braskem to locate green PP in Triunfo or Sao Paulo

APLA ’10: Chemicals helping to ‘cut greenhouse gas emissions’

APLA ’10: Bio-based products to make up 8% of chem sales in 2012

APLA ’10: Chems can reduce emissions at little cost – McKinsey

APLA ’10: Green chems a step into the future – Carbocloro chief

APLA ’10: Solar modules boosting demand for EVA, VAM in China


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One Response to Renewables growth in Latin America

  1. Charlie Rheo 22 November, 2010 at 8:50 am #

    I agree with the general theme of your article–green chemicals and plastics will see an exponential growth over the next decade. The growth will also be fueled from development of additional building blocks opposite ethylene. See the website for more details about building blocks.

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