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The future role of biofuels in the new energy transition: lessons and perspectives of biofuels in Brazil

Abstract

The energy sector is in turmoil with multiple possible scenarios, with huge economic, social, political, environmental, and technological implications. The big question is, what could be the potential role of biofuels for transport in this emerging and mixed energy scenario, and more specifically in Brazil? In the very short term, this uncertainty will translate in greater increase of oil and gas and renewables (RE) in general, as there are few realistic alternatives. But in the longer term, it must be non-fossils. The emerging global consensus is that the future MUST be renewables. The question is, how long will take this transition phase. The Russia-Ukraine war represents a major energy and political shift, although such impacts will be unequal around the world. For example, and as stated in chapter 1, in Europe given its high dependency on Russian fossil fuels there is a political scramble to reduce such dependency as a matter of urgency, which could be translated in an urgent search for energy alternatives, especially RE. Other countries are also increasing RE as a response to high oil prices, e.g., India, which is increasing gasoline-ethanol blend to reduce costly oil imports. Thus, there will be a variety of political and technological energy alternatives. During the oil crisis of the 1970s, Brazil showed a great vision by setting up a national ethanol fuel program, a unique project at national level, that was the school and envy of many countries. This initiative put Brazil in a unique historical footage e.g., a huge know-how on alternative fuel for transport, as well technological, agricultural, economic, environmental, and social benefits. Thus, the key question we need to ask is what will be the new role of biofuels in the emerging energy paradigm in the country? What lessons can be applied from its unique historical experience? What lessons are there for other countries? The book examines such questions in detail and tries to provide answers as accurate as possible within this highly uncertain future scenario. Science and technology are advancing so quickly, that options that seem feasible today, could easily be obsolete tomorrow. The main challenge for Brazil is political rather than technological, social, or economic, since the country has the technological know-how, natural and human resources, and research capability to deal successfully with various energy future scenarios. (AU)

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