Continued growth for Brazil’s corn ethanol manufacturing?
For the April-March season through mid-February, production of corn ethanol in Brazil’s center-south reached 3.0 billion liters. This total suggests that an earlier UNICA forecast for 2021/22 corn ethanol production of 3.5 billion liters lies within reach. Total 2021 ethanol production reached 26.6 billion liters.
That estimate of 3.5 billion liters would be up nearly 36 percent from 2020/21 production near 2.58 billion liters. In December, UNICA published an early 2022/23 production forecast of 4.6 billion liters, up over 31 percent from this season’s estimated volume.
UNICA reports that of 268 ethanol plants in the center-south, six are corn ethanol plants, while another five plants can utilize either corn or sugarcane as a feedstock. In 2021/22, UNICA reported that some 12.6 percent of center-south ethanol was derived from corn. Currently, production of corn ethanol is centered in the states of Mato Grosso and Goiás.
Per USDA, the nameplate capacity of corn and corn-sugarcane ethanol plants was 4 billion liters in 2021, up from 2.5 billion liters in 2020. Compare this to 343 sugarcane-only ethanol plants in 2021 with total nameplate capacity of 54.5 billion liters. Meanwhile, three cellulosic ethanol plants have a total capacity of 75 million liters.
UNEM, the country’s corn ethanol industry group, estimates that corn ethanol production could reach 9.65 billion liters in 2030, per UOL Economia—contingent, naturally, on corn plantings and production.
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