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Your Country Your Call: Big Green Ideas that Worked

As part of our series on ‘Big Ideas’ that worked in other countries, in conjunction with the other Ryan Academy blogs (an earlier post on the High Tech blog gave another example), here we are looking at the Brazilian experiment. The objective is to make Brazil a world leader in the development and production of Ethanol biofuel as an alternative to oil based fuels. Ethanol can be mass-produced by fermentation of sugar, which Brazil has in abundance.

Brazil, which had to import a large share of the petroleum needed for domestic consumption, aims to reach complete self-sufficiency in oil supply which would lower overall imports considerably as well securing energy security in the future. There is also the export potential particularly as oil prices rise as they must do in the future.  

In doing so they have revolutionised the Brazilian car manufacturing industry, which has developed flexible-fuel vehicles that can run on any proportion of gasoline and ethanol. They have also built the research infrastructure and knowledge base through investment in competence centres such as the Centre for Sugarcane Technology (CTC).

In 2004 the CTC underwent a strategic repositioning, and obtained support from sugarcane producers and processors all over Brazil. At that time, CTC was recreated as a non-profit research and development institution maintained by the sugar mills and grower associations in the sugarcane industry. They are also working with leading agribusiness companies such as Cargill.

Although there has been some complaints about the use of ethanol as a biofuel in recent years, there is no doubt that Brazil has a Big Idea based on its own core competencies and they are implementing it.

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