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Exploring future scenarios of ethanol demand in Brazil and their land-use implications

Milton Aurelio Uba de Andrade Junior, Hugo Valin, Aline C. Soterroni, Fernando M. Ramos and Anthony Halog

Energy Policy, 2019, vol. 134, issue C

Abstract: Ethanol biofuel demand in Brazil is highly dependent on macroeconomic and policy drivers, making it difficult to anticipate future production and associated environmental implications. Here we develop scenarios of ethanol demand in Brazil towards 2030, based on a thorough examination of key influencing drivers, i.e. GDP and population growth, fleet composition, blending policies, fuel prices and energy efficiency. We then estimate their land-use implications using a detailed partial equilibrium model, GLOBIOM-Brazil. We find that ethanol demand is highly sensitive to the drivers considered and could increase between 37.4 and 70.7 billion litres in 2030 depending on the scenario. Such increase is 13% and 114% above the 2018 production. This represents an expansion in sugarcane area between 1.2 and 5 million hectares (14%–58% above the land-use in 2018). Compared to the low demand scenario, a high demand for ethanol in 2030 would drive sugarcane expansion mostly into pastureland (72%) and natural vegetation mosaics (19%). Our results suggest that future ethanol demand in Brazil should not substantially affect food production nor native forest. This outcome will however depend on the compliance with the sugarcane agro-ecological zoning (AEZ) by the ethanol sector in Brazil, a key assumption of our projections.

Keywords: Policy drivers; Biofuels; Ethanol demand; Land-use change; Sugarcane; Agro-ecological zoning (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:enepol:v:134:y:2019:i:c:s0301421519305452

DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2019.110958

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