SAO PAULO, June 27 Brazilian biotechnology
startup GranBio Investimentos will export the fuel it hopes to
make from cellulose in sugar cane stalks starting next year
rather than trying to supply Brazil's cars, its chief executive
Brazil, the global pioneer of sugar-cane based ethanol, has
not developed policies promoting so-called second-generation
biofuels that convert non-edible material into fuel, GranBio's
CEO Bernardo Gradin said on Wednesday.
"There are new rules for ethanol in the United States and
Europe has launched a guaranteed demand for cellulosic ethanol.
Brazil has no such program ... it makes more sense commercially
for us to export," he told Reuters on the sidelines of Brazil's
biennial Ethanol Summit.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Renewable Fuel
Standard 2 calls for 21 billion gallons (79 billion liters) of
advanced biofuels to be delivered by 2022, a target many have
called unrealistically high for an industry that is barely
producing on a commercial scale.
Brazil's agriculture ministry estimates national production
of 100 million liters a year of cellulosic biofuel by 2015.
Though markets for second-generation biofuel are relatively
unknown, analysts have been expecting an uptick in Brazil's
cane-based ethanol exports to the United States since
Washington's decision last year to end a steep tariff on foreign
Gradin said GranBio is holding its estimated start date for
its first cellulose ethanol mill, an 82-million-liter facility
in northeast Brazil, for the first four months of 2014. The
company then has plans to open a new mill each year for the next
four years, a $2 billion investment.
Other firms investing in the high-risk venture of
second-generation biofuel in Brazil include UK-based TMO
Renewables, which said in April it plans to open a 10 million
liter bioethanol plant next year to supply the local market.
Though Gradin said he wished the Brazilian government would
do more to support cellulosic ethanol now, he said it would only
be a matter of years before Brazil turns to non-edible biofuel.
Brazil imports most of its gasoline and sells it at a loss,
and a recent weakening of Brazil's currency, the real, has
accentuated the difference in imported fuel prices, possibly
giving the government another incentive to promote biofuels.
"The demand for fuel is going to double in 10 years and I
don't believe first generation ethanol can meet it," he said.
(Reporting by Caroline Stauffer and Lucas Iberico-Lozada;
Editing by Kenneth Barry)