Opinion – Eduardo Sodré: COP27 final text opens opportunity for Brazil to export ethanol technologies


The document approved this Sunday (20) at COP27 puts ethanol in evidence again.

In addition to confirming the creation of a fund for energy, the final text of the 27th edition of the UN climate conference (United Nations) demonstrates greater tolerance with the energy transition.

The crisis generated by the war in Ukraine gave life to fossil fuels, but did not eliminate the decarbonization targets established in the Paris Agreement. That’s where renewable sources come in.

The statement released over the weekend “underlines the importance of reinforcing a mix of clean energies, including low-emission energies and renewable energies, at all levels, within the scope of diversifying energy mixes and systems, in line with national circumstances and recognizing the need for support for just transitions”.

By bringing the text to the automotive universe, it can be seen that the plans to transform ethanol technology into an export-type product are starting to make sense. Both automakers and global suppliers that have developed flex fuel systems in Brazil are eyeing the foreign market.

Volkswagen inaugurated this Monday (21) the research and development unit Way to Zero Center. The name in English already demonstrates the interest in operating worldwide. Roughly speaking, it means taking the seed of our jabuticaba, the alcohol-powered car, to other countries.

The targets are clear, as shown in the text released by the automaker. “The Way To Zero Center team will focus on verifying where local technologies that contribute to CO2 reduction can be used, supporting their implementation in markets such as, for example, India, Latin America, Asia and Africa.”

In other words, markets where electrification is a distant goal, both because of the costs involved and because of the precarious charging structure. In addition, it is necessary to offer more affordable products to populations in emerging nations, where the aging of the fleet exacerbates the problem of pollutant and carbon dioxide emissions.

The Volkswagen initiative involves 10 universities and companies such as Bosch and Raízen, which controls Shell. The automaker already has advanced talks with India, a market that should receive the first cars powered by ethanol in 2023 – whether flex fuel or 100% fueled with renewable fuel.

The Stellantis group also develops solutions based on sugarcane derivatives. One of the projects reconciles electricity and biofuel, a solution adopted by Toyota with the Corolla Hybrid Flex line. Nissan, on the other hand, is working on an even more advanced project, which is the hydrogen fuel cell fueled by ethanol.

Interest in renewable fuel also tends to grow in the United States, where the RFA (English acronym for the Renewable Fuels Association) has insisted on the role of corn-derived ethanol in decarbonization.

“Low-cost, lower-emission ethanol is already cleaning up engine fuel around the world and, as we look to the future, it could play a leading role in sustainable jet fuel or even electricity generation,” said Geoff Cooper, CEO of Germany, in a statement released during COP27.

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