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With Brazil's ethanol prices soaring, the nation's government is expected to put forth a policy to reduce the mandatory ethanol blend in gasoline. Brazil's energy minister, Edison Lobao, recently met with President Dilma Rousseff. The two immediately arrived at the conclusion that unless Brazil's mandatory ethanol blend is reduced, the nation will run out of the biofuel before the next sugarcane harvest.

A sugar cane shortage in April caused Brazil's ethanol prices to soar, rising 65 percent to $6.31 a gallon or more than double what it was the year before. Since Brazil blends its gasoline with a mandated 25 percent ethanol, the rising cost of the biofuel directly affects pump prices. Even though the U.S. stepped in to assist by shipping some 200 million liters (52.8 million gallons) of ethanol to Brazil, the biofuel shortage has continued to worsen in the South American nation.

In a gesture to improve biofuel trade relations with the U.S. and other countries, Brazil's Council of Ministers of the Board of Foreign Trade (MDIC) has temporarily lifted the country's tariff on imported ethanol, changing the tax rate from 20 percent to zero percent. The tariff will be lifted through the end of 2011.

Pretty much anyone with an eco-agenda is making their voice heard at the COP 15 United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen. Delegates from 192 countries are attending and throwing their two cents into the communal pot, including Brazil, which is in Denmark to defend ethanol. In fact, representatives from Brazil say that biofuels are "the only real alternative to fossil fuels," especially for developing countries.

During the big Ethanol Summit 2009 down in Brazil this week, former President Clinton gave a bit of advice to that country's ethanol industry: don't destroy so much forest land just to make biofuel. Clinton said that "everybody" already knows that Brazilian ethanol made from sugar cane is the most efficient biofuel in the world. The problem isn't getting the word out, but potential negative consequences of cutting down more forest in order to plant more crops. "The world would say, if we let Bra

The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) has snagged former U.S. President Bill Clinton to be a speaker at the upcoming Ethanol Summit 2009. The Summit takes place in Sao Paulo, Brazil in early June. Part of Clinton's post-White House life has been running the William J. Clinton Foundation and a part of that is the Clinton Climate Initiative, which finds ways to fund progressive climate change projects in a business-oriented way.

In Brazil, ethanol tends to be the fuel of choice over gasoline thanks to favorable pricing and the local sugar cane feedstock. As a result most of the cars available there are offered in flex fuel variants that aren't for sale anywhere else in the world. Such is the case with the latest edition of the Nissan Versa which is sold in Brazil as the Tiida. The Tiida FFV uses the same 1.8-liter four cylinder that's in the U.S.-market Versa with a new fuel system. The FFV engine is rated at 125 hp on

Even though some headlines were dominated by Brazilian economic news, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's visit to the U.S. and his meeting with President Obama over the weekend also dealt with the ethanol industry. The big biofuel news from Silva's visit was a call to end U.S. tariffs on his country's ethanol exports. Silva told an investor forum on Monday that he spoke with President Bush about this many times and will do so with Obama as well. Considering Obama's Agriculture Secretary's str

Today, ethanol is not the most favored solution to oil dependency, but it was not always so frowned upon. Here's a car that deserves a place in the history of ethanol's growth. A Brazilian friend of mine pointed to me to the first mass-produced ethanol car (with the exception of the Ford T): the local version of the Fiat 127 (also the Seat 127) that was called the Fiat 147. The 147 was developed in Brazil in 1976 right as the oil crisis hit and the country was seeking solutions from the biofuel.

According to an article in The New Economic Times, Fiat is planning to launch a new ethanol-powered engine for the Brazilian market. Ethanol is widely used for fuel in Brazil and half of the country's sugar cane crops are currently used for its production. Fiat intends the motor to be run on fuel that the ethanol producers create themselves, saving on taxes. What is most interesting about this story, though, is that it seems the new engine will be based on a current diesel block. In fact, a smal

Good news for Brazilians: the prices for ethanol has dropped 38 percent because of an increase in sugarcane production. Prices will continue its decrease, according to Júlio Maria Borges, an analyst at JOB Consultaría, even when the harvest finishes.

Brazil's Companhia Nacional do Abastecimento is forecasting record levels for the 2007-2008 sugarcane production fuelled (pun intended) by the expansion of ethanol. According to this official organisation, this year's production of sugarcane will reach 547.2 million tons, 15.2 percent more than last year's 474.8 million.

It seems that, although the EU will be buying massive quantities of raw materials to produce biofuels, Brazil prefers to sell the complete product. But this would be reacted by EUs concerns on biofuel production outside its borders (and how about the raw materials?) which would lead to barriers for imports.

The headline on this story from Dow Jones Newswire - "Is Brazil's Ethanol Bubble Set To Cool?" - is a bit alarmist, don't you think? I think the news in the story - that Brazil's ethanol industry may soon slow down - is important, but I don't think it's fair to call a system that has been making the biofuel for decades a "bubble." Thankfully, the lede - "Is Brazil's white-hot ethanol sector set to cool?" - is a bit more tempered.

Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva helped open his country's first ethanol and biodiesel plant Wednesday. The plant will make both biofuels from oilseeds and represents Brazil's shift into biofuels other than ethanol, which has dominated the country's fuel economy for decades. The Barralcool plant has been making ethanol for over twenty years and was recently integrated with biodiesel production machinery.

Ever since the dawn of the Industrial Age, Japan has had to import oil, and Japan was hit hard by the 1973 Oil Crisis. Even though the renewable fuel market is growing worldwide, Japan is not any more energy independent because it has limited farmland on which to grow fuel crops. To secure a steady supply of ethanol, Japan and Brazil announced early this month that they will sign a pact in October for Brazil to import the biofuel to Japan. Japan has invested $1.29 billion in Brazil to produce et