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Environmental analysis of biofuels in Germany and Europe: current trends, concepts, methodologies, certification

Grant number: 07/08447-3
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2008
Effective date (End): June 30, 2008
Field of knowledge:Engineering - Mechanical Engineering
Cooperation agreement: DAAD
Principal researcher:Gilberto de Martino Jannuzzi
Grantee:Gilberto de Martino Jannuzzi
Host: Karin Holm-Müller
Institution abroad: Universität Bonn, Germany
Home Institution: Faculdade de Engenharia Mecânica (FEM). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil


The development of biofuels, in particular ethanol and biodiesel, has acquired a major importance. The European Union has defined ambitious targets aiming to create a sustainable market for biofuels reducing its dependency on foreign oil imports and also as a strategy to comply with the Kyoto targets. Japan and USA are also pursuing ambitious plans to replace part of their current gasoline consumption with bioethanol (Doornbosch & Steenblik, 2007).Brazil has a successful experience in developing a domestic market for bioethanol from sugar cane. Over the last 30 years it was able to develop agricultural and industrial technologies that together public policies and regulation resulted in a very competitive final product. Nowadays, this product ethanol is produced by private firms without any direct economic subsidy. A large expansion of the sugar cane-to-ethanol system in Brazil is currently being considered by private and public firms, due to its positive carbon-balance and attractive international price as compared to existing alternatives to fossil fuels. Land availability, local expertise and technologies coupled with increased demand both domestic and international increased domestic and international demand, amongst other issues. It is expected that the Brazilian production will increase 6 times during the next 20 years and will be equivalent to 5% of the world's gasoline demand by year 2025.Germany is currently one of the main industrialized countries producing biofuels and has pioneered environmental analysis of these systems together with the EUA, the Netherlands, and other countries. Purpose of the short stay in Germany:An increasing concern with environmental issues has accompanied the recent expansion of biofuels production in Brazil (Macedo, 2005) and at the same time there is increased interest and potential to expand the current domestic ethanol production to meet at least 5% of the world's gasoline demand over the next 20 years (Leite et. al., 2007). Several studies have indicated that production of biomass for biofuels can have many different impacts on biodiversity, water quality and use and soil erosion (for example, Doornbosch & Steenblik, 2007).The main objective of a short stay in Germany is to collect information and interact with local experts on current methods to assess and regulate environmental impacts of biofuels production and use. We have initiated a study to investigate the cumulative impacts of expanding ethanol production in Brazil in areas not traditionally used for sugar cane plantation considering the following parameters: a) impacts on socio-economic indicators; b) impacts on local air quality; c) impacts on water usage; d) soil preservation and use; e) biodiversity; f) fertilizers and agricultural herbicides. We are interested in evaluating the current trends in Germany (as one of the most relevant country-producing biofuels) with regards to: 1) What are the methods and quantitative standards being used/discussed for biofuels certification? How is certification being regarded as a policy instrument? 2) The establishment of criteria for sustainability indicators and criteria used to optimize environmental resource utilization3)The use of strategic environmental assessment (SEA) in biofuels systems (International Association for Impact Assessment, IAIA, 1999) 4)Current trends in legislation and regulation of biofuels production and end-use. (AU)

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