Colombia’s biofuels exceed international standards for reducing greenhouse gas emissions – advancing the country’s goal to become a leading ethanol producer, according to a new government report.
The study commissioned by the Ministry of Mines and Energy found that Colombian ethanol made with sugar cane emits 74% less greenhouse gases than fossil fuels. Ethanol made with palm oil produces 83% less emissions.
These reductions mean that if all of the country’s existing cane sugar and palm oil facilities operated at full capacity, carbon dioxide emissions would drop by 1.8 million tonnes – 3% of the country’s CO2 emissions in 2008, the report stated.
The findings come as Colombia’s government seeks to position the country as a growing biofuels producer and increase investment in the industry.
Though still years behind the world’s largest biofuels producers, the U.S. and Brazil, Colombia’s ethanol industry is set to benefit from the U.S. Free Trade Agreement, which takes effect May 15.
Cane sugar ethanol is not produced in the U.S., and while Brazil’s exports to the U.S. face high tariffs, Colombian fuel will avoid them as a result of the FTA.
Colombian biofuels perform well against international competitors and “meet the minimum 40% reduction of greenhouse gases, as established by various biofuel standards,” the report notes, according to local media.
“Thus, Colombian biofuel exports can benefit from the various subsidy mechanisms on the international market for sustainable biofuels,” the study concludes.
Research also pointed to the potential for considerable expansion of both palm oil and cane sugar cultivation.
The report was produced by the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Government of Japan. It was presented at the government-sponsored “Sustainability Energy in Colombia” conference in Bogota May 8.