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Old 2006-02-09, 08:24 PM   #7
HardcoreCokerRider
Skateparks, MTB & Urban Insanity
 
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Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Manhattan
Age: 49
Posts: 546
I believe Brazil is currently the worldwide leader for ethanol production and use. Their cars use flex-fuel technology (they can switch between gas and ethanol). With Brazilian ethanol selling for 45% less per liter than gasoline in 2003 and 2004, flex-fuel cars caught on like iPods. In 2003, flex-fuel had 6% of the market for Brazilian-made cars (from manufacturers including Ford and VW), and automakers were expecting the technology’s share to zoom to 30% in 2005. That proved wildly conservative: As of last December, 73% of cars sold in Brazil came with flex fuel engines. They now have 1.3 million flex-fuel cars on the road and Brazilians have ready access to what’s known in Portuguese as alcool at nearly all of the country’s 34,000 gas stations.

Ethanol’s rise has far-reaching effects on the economy. Not only does Brazil no longer have to import oil but an estimated $69 billion that would go to the Middle East or elsewhere has stayed in the country and is revitalizing once-depressed rural areas.

Near the prosperous farm town of Sertaozinho, some 200 miles north of Sao Paolo, the fuel that will fill the tanks of nearly three million Brazilian cars in a few months is still waist-high. Lush sugar-cane fields stretch as far as the eye can see, interrupted only by the towering white mills where the stalks of the plants will be turned into ethanol when the harvest begins in March. Brazil has the perfect geography for growing sugar cane, the most energy-rich ethanol feedstock known to science. More than 250 mills have sprouted in southeastern Brazil, and another 50 are under construction, at a cost of about $100 million each.

Even though the US will never be a sugar-cane powerhouse like Brazil, investors now view Rio as the future of fuel. “I hate to see the US ten years behind Brazil, but that’s probably where we are,” says one shrewd American freethinker, Ted Turner.
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