THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
Global production of bio-fuels increased 17% in 2010 to reach an all-time high of 105 billion liters, up from 90 billion liters in 2009. US and Brazil remain the world’s leading producers of ethanol US and Brazil remain the world’s leading producers of ethanol. High oil prices, a global economic rebound and new laws and mandates in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China and the US, among other countries, are all factors behind the surge in production, according to research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute’s climate and energy program for the website Vital Signs Online.
The US and Brazil remain the two largest producers of ethanol. In 2010, the US generated 49 billion liters, or 57% of global output, and Brazil produced 28 billion liters, – 33% of the total. Corn is the primary feedstock for US ethanol, and sugarcane is the dominant source of ethanol in Brazil.
“In the US, the record production of bio-fuels is attributed in part to high oil prices, which encouraged several large fuel companies, including Sunoco, Valero, Flint Hills and Murphy Oil, to enter the ethanol industry” says Alexander Ochs, director of Worldwatch’s climate and energy program.
High oil prices were also a factor inBrazil, where every third car-owner drives a “flex-fuel” vehicle that can run on either fossil or bio-based fuels. Many Brazilian drivers have switched to sugarcane ethanol because it is cheaper than gasoline. “Although the US and Brazilare the world leaders in ethanol, the largest producer of bio-diesel is the European Union, which generated 53% of all bio-diesel in 2010,” says Ochs. “However, we may see some European countries switch from bio-diesel to ethanol because a recent report from the European Commission states that ethanol crops have a higher energy content than bio-diesel crops, making them more efficient sources of fuel.”
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