Ethanol for Finnish cars is mostly made from euro-cereals
Increased prices in Brazil put a stop to imports of sugarcane liquid
Imports of Brazilian ethanol into Finland for fuel purposes have dried up, at least for the time being. The reasons for the situation are the growing demand for ethanol in Brazil and increased sugar prices.
Ethanol can be produced from sugarcane, which is also used as a raw material for sugar. As the price of sugar has gone up, sugarcane has been channelled to sugar production.
In addition, cars sold in Brazil today are mainly running on mixtures of ethanol, which is bound to increase the demand for ethanol in the country.
At the same time, also weather conditions have affected the production of sugarcane.
”For many years, we imported ethanol only from Brazil, but now exports from there to Europe have dried up”, notes Managing Director Henrikki Talvitie from North European Oil Trade Oy (NEOT), a company that carries on wholesale trade in oil products.
Owned by SOK and ST1 Oy, NEOT supplies petrol to the ABC, St1, and Shell service station chains.
NEOT provides roughly half of the ethanol used for transport fuel purposes in Finland.
Today, NEOT’s ethanol comes mainly from the European Union area, in which its most essential raw material is wheat.
A few per cent of all ethanol used by NEOT is of domestic origin. St1 produces ethanol from waste generated by the Finnish food processing industry, for example from potato peels.
”We are trying to increase the share of food waste in our ethanol production. It would be great if we could raise the share to 10% next year”, Talvitie notes.
”US corn and Brazilian sugarcane are both still potential sources for our ethanol production, but imports from Brazil have been dormant for quite some time”, Talvitie adds.
St1’s goal is to increase the production of ethanol from food waste so much that in 2020 it could be used to meet the entire biofuel obligation set for all road transport fuel sold in Finland.
The goal set by the European Union is that 10% of all road transport energy should come from renewable sources by 2020. Finland’s goal is higher: 20%.
Director Sami Oja from Neste Oil confirms that at the moment Brazilian ethanol is not a profitable alternative.
”We have some competitive supply sources, which we do not want to disclose for commercial reasons. In the current year, we will buy ethanol mainly from European sources as well as from South and North America”, Oja reports.
Oja is not willing to reveal more detailed information about the company’s acquisition sources.
However, Oja can report that the EU was the company’s most important ethanol purchasing source in 2010.
In the EU area, ethanol is produced especially from wheat, but even from corn, barley, rye, and sugarbeet. Even wine and wood pulp can be used.
In the United States, the main raw material for ethanol is corn.
Price fluctuations may change the country of origin of ethanol rapidly.
Accurate information about the origin of the ethanol imported into Finland cannot be found even from the foreign trade statistics of the Finnish Customs.
The information is being withheld on the grounds that it is a trade secret.
Finland’s ethanol consumption is increasing, as according to the law, all road transport fuel sold in Finland in 2011 must contain 6% biofuel. For this reason, a new 95 E10 grade of petrol was introduced into Finnish market early this year.
The new E10 petrol contains more ethanol than the old 95 E. The content of ethanol can now be up to 10%, instead of the previous 5%.
By increasing the biofuel content of fuel, the EU attempts at curbing global warming, which according to scientists is caused by the growth in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
When burning petroleum, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, while the aim of using biofuels is to recycle carbon.
In principle, the amounts of carbon that are released from fuel will be bound back into the growing bio-mass.
Previously in HS International Edition:
New 95 E10 petrol is being introduced into Finnish market (3.1.2011)
Finnish oil industry trusts that sales of E10 petrol will improve (13.5.2011)
Tests reveal fluctuation in ethanol content of E10 petrol (17.3.2011)
Pekkarinen: no evidence that ethanol-laced E10 petrol is harmful (11.3.2011)
VTT study: cars with E10 petrol do not consume more fuel than those with 98-octane variety (11.5.2011)
Ethanol fuel (Wikipedia)
North European Oil Trade Oy (NEOT)