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Biofuels in South America - Statistics & Facts

The Paris Agreement, in which signing parties agreed upon the need of a global reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, entered into force in November 2016. Nearly five years later, the issue remains just as, if not more, pressing. In the transportation sector, one path toward emission reduction is the replacement of fossil fuels with biofuels. Unlike its counterparts, biofuels are produced from a variety of crops, and their combustion emissions are at least partially offset by the absorption of CO₂ from the feedstock crop during its lifetime. As such, there is a general consensus that the use of biofuels needs to increase dramatically in the next decades, in order to reach the proposed emissions targets. In this context, South America – home to two of the leading biofuel-producing countries worldwide – plays an important role.

Riding with ethanol fuel before it was cool

In 2019, Brazil was the second largest biofuel producer in the world, ranking only behind the U.S. But the South American country’s history with ethanol fuel – which accounts for over 85 percent of the national biofuel output – is no recent trend. Since 1976, a blend of ethanol fuel in commercialized gasoline is mandatory, with the minimum blend rate standing at 27 percent as of 2021. In addition, pure ethanol is also sold as vehicle fuel in Brazilian petrol stations, frequently a cheaper alternative against surges in gasoline prices. In fact, more than eight out of ten new light vehicles registered in the country are “flexible fuel” (vehicles with an engine that can run on any ratio of ethanol and gasoline).

A similar, yet more recent development is also seen in Argentina, the second biggest producer in the region. The mandated blend of ethanol fuel in gasoline sold in the country was first enforced in 2010. Since then, the Argentine ethanol fuel output has increased by nearly nine-fold, surpassing one billion liters per year. In contrast, Colombia’s annual production has oscillated throughout the past decade, with the blend mandates adjusted accordingly in order to supply the internal demand. Nowadays, however, with the blend rate fixed at 10 percent in most of the country, Colombia has found itself increasingly more dependent on ethanol fuel imports.

Biodiesel demand is also on the rise

In regard to biodiesel, Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina display a similar mandated blend rate in commercialized diesel fuel. While market prices are set by the national government in the two Spanish-speaking countries, sales of biodiesel in Brazil are carried out through bi-monthly auctions. In terms of market, however, Argentina is the one that distinguishes itself within the trio. In Brazil and Colombia, biodiesel production mainly supplies the internal demand. In contrast, in Argentina, biodiesel output was historically boosted with a focus on the foreign market. Although the domestic consumption increased over the past decade, following the establishment of a blend mandate, biodiesel exports still account for nearly half of the Argentine production.

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Brazil

Argentina

Colombia

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Biofuels in South America

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Biofuels in South America - Statistics & Facts

The Paris Agreement, in which signing parties agreed upon the need of a global reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, entered into force in November 2016. Nearly five years later, the issue remains just as, if not more, pressing. In the transportation sector, one path toward emission reduction is the replacement of fossil fuels with biofuels. Unlike its counterparts, biofuels are produced from a variety of crops, and their combustion emissions are at least partially offset by the absorption of CO₂ from the feedstock crop during its lifetime. As such, there is a general consensus that the use of biofuels needs to increase dramatically in the next decades, in order to reach the proposed emissions targets. In this context, South America – home to two of the leading biofuel-producing countries worldwide – plays an important role.

Riding with ethanol fuel before it was cool

In 2019, Brazil was the second largest biofuel producer in the world, ranking only behind the U.S. But the South American country’s history with ethanol fuel – which accounts for over 85 percent of the national biofuel output – is no recent trend. Since 1976, a blend of ethanol fuel in commercialized gasoline is mandatory, with the minimum blend rate standing at 27 percent as of 2021. In addition, pure ethanol is also sold as vehicle fuel in Brazilian petrol stations, frequently a cheaper alternative against surges in gasoline prices. In fact, more than eight out of ten new light vehicles registered in the country are “flexible fuel” (vehicles with an engine that can run on any ratio of ethanol and gasoline).

A similar, yet more recent development is also seen in Argentina, the second biggest producer in the region. The mandated blend of ethanol fuel in gasoline sold in the country was first enforced in 2010. Since then, the Argentine ethanol fuel output has increased by nearly nine-fold, surpassing one billion liters per year. In contrast, Colombia’s annual production has oscillated throughout the past decade, with the blend mandates adjusted accordingly in order to supply the internal demand. Nowadays, however, with the blend rate fixed at 10 percent in most of the country, Colombia has found itself increasingly more dependent on ethanol fuel imports.

Biodiesel demand is also on the rise

In regard to biodiesel, Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina display a similar mandated blend rate in commercialized diesel fuel. While market prices are set by the national government in the two Spanish-speaking countries, sales of biodiesel in Brazil are carried out through bi-monthly auctions. In terms of market, however, Argentina is the one that distinguishes itself within the trio. In Brazil and Colombia, biodiesel production mainly supplies the internal demand. In contrast, in Argentina, biodiesel output was historically boosted with a focus on the foreign market. Although the domestic consumption increased over the past decade, following the establishment of a blend mandate, biodiesel exports still account for nearly half of the Argentine production.

Interesting statistics

In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the {amountStatistics} most important statistics relating to "Biofuels in South America".

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