Thailand Driven Ethanol with Brazil for Global Sustainability

Thailand and Brazil, the two leading countries of the world with a major role for cane and sugar industries as well as ethanol, have recently organized a seminar entitled, “Sustainable Mobility: Ethanol Talk”, in March. The event featured specialists on energy industries who presented analyses and past experiences about backgrounds, consumption and support of government in terms of biofuel which transformed Brazil to become one of the most influential nations of the world, particularly in terms of ethanol. Also, Thailand is expected to apply ethanol as an alternative energy for cleaner environment and more local sustainability.

Mr. Siriwut Siemphadi, the chair of public relations task force from 3 associations of sugar refineries in Thailand, revealed that cane and sugar industries in Thailand, as a sugar exporter ranked the second in the world, had worked jointly with public and private agencies in Brazil, namely União da Indústria de Cana-de-Açúcar (ÚNICA), Arranjo Produtivo Local do Álcool (APLA) and Agência Brasileira de Promoção de Exportações e Investimentos (APEX-Brazil) to organize this seminar at Novotel Hotel, Bangkok. The aim of the event is to promote ethanol use as a biofuel, solve environmental problems and reduce emission of greenhouse gas which is a major cause of present global warming.

“This seminar is expected to raise awareness on use of biofuel in Thailand, in particular ethanol which we can produce from cane or other agricultural products as an ingredient mixed with various types of petroleum oil. Doing so will reduce air pollution and import of overseas fuel apart from strengthening ethanol industries and stabilizing national fuel energy,” explained Mr. Siriwut.

A technical Seminar denominated “Sustainable Mobility: Ethanol Talks – Thailand”

Dr. Plinio Nastari, the board director of Datagro Co. Ltd. and a civil society representative of Brazil’s Council of Energy Policy, said that Brazil was beginning to mobilize ethanol in the national policy. Over 22% of ethanol is being used now and the use is increasing clearly. Some states in Brazil are encouraging using ethanol entirely instead of oil. In the period of industrial transition in Brazil, the country used ethanol against gasoline and its export to the US was tariff-free. Especially in 1986, a law to fix prices of fuel faced problems as fuel prices did not correspond with raw materials’ capital costs. Afterwards, the government resolved to adjust policy to motivate more use of ethanol along with considering economic capital besides finding a market to which ethanol was exported.

Nowadays, ethanol is playing a key and crucial role to Brazil as it saves environment. Industrial success stems from clear governmental visions and policy on promotion of basic E12 oil, resulting in 75% out of 80% cars in the country turned to the environmentally-friendly ethanol. There are 11 ethanol refineries in Brazil and every gas station encourages customers to use ethanol. Besides, not only cane but also corn and other crops are used to produce ethanol for natural balance maintenance.

Dr. Gonçalo Pereira, a professor of Universidade de Capinas (Unicamp) in Brazil, said that, actually, burning takes place at every energy source even electrical cars. The cars, although environmentally friendly, clean and modern, are not much campaigned for common use. As a result, consideration should be taken on acceptance of energy crops and stakeholders. “Administration according to governmental policy, Brazil integrates works of both the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Energy in the same direction. What Thailand needs to take into account is policy itself because the country has existing raw materials, but needs to enhance efficiency on products per a plot of Rai land as well as promoting more use.

“Brazil is different from Thailand in terms of policy. In Thailand, we have the cane and sugar act. Everything has quota and is not flexible. On the contrary, Brazil is adjustable to any problems. For instance, bagasse can be used to adjust costs, technology and high investment. The ethanol policy of Thailand is good, but the problem is that the plan should become practical. We believe it works well because ethanol is good for environment,” explained Dr. Pereira.

Brazil has been using ethanol to replace petroleum oil for cars for over 40 years. At present, over 60% of cane or 300 million tons are used to produce ethanol. No less than 25% of ethanol must be mixed with gasoline or benzine, making Brazil flexible for sugar production. When sugar prices drop, ethanol, which yields more profits, will be made from cane. On the contrary, when sugar is more profitable than ethanol, cane will be used to make it. Furthermore, use of ethanol in Brazil since 2003 has reduced emission of as much carbon dioxide as 600 million tons, equivalent to use of over 4,000 million tress to absorb the toxic gas.

There is information that the current amount of biofuel like ethanol in Thailand is higher than the needs to use it as production capacity for ethanol is around 5.80-6 million liters per day whereas only 4-5 million liters of ethanol are used. An important thing for concrete industrial mobilization is therefore a clear alternative energy policy. Moreover, ethanol should be considered in terms of its benefits for environment and sustainability. Also, E20 should be taken into consideration along with capital costs that farmers should receive since 70% of any products come from plants.

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