LAC Digest 5 Review

SIMONE PEREIRA SOUZA, LUIZ AUGUSTO HORTA NOGUEIRA, JOHAN MARTINEZ, ET AL. “Sugarcane can afford a cleaner energy profile in Latin America & Caribbean.” Renewable Energy 121 (2018): 164-172.


This article provides an evaluation of the potential supply of bioenergy from sugarcane shortterm and long-term in Latin America and the Caribbean. The evaluation proposes ways for countries to achieve significant reductions in fossil fuel, savings in greenhouse gasses and overall energy security. While the authors optimistically present data to support these claims, they do not omit the challenges countries may face in implementation. These strategies can possibly change the region’s contribution to renewable energy prominence.

Abstract: Latin American and Caribbean’s (LAC) external dependency on fossil fuels and the pursuit for renewable energy leads to the need for a strategy to afford a cleaner and reliable domestic energy supply. Sugarcane presents high photosynthetic efficiency and it is a wellspread crop in LAC. Our study aims to explore the potential of different approaches of modern energy production from sugarcane, at a national level, and its implication to the environmental aspects. We found that Guatemala, Nicaragua and Cuba would be able to replace 10% of the gasoline and about 2-3% of the diesel consumption by only using the current molasses. With a slight expansion on sugarcane production, Bolivia can replace 20% of the gasoline and diesel, besides providing surplus ethanol for exportation or other purposes. With a minor investment, bagasse may enlarge the electricity access in many countries whereas in other may represent an alternative to replace fossil fuel sources. We also found relevant potential on reducing the GHG emissions especially in Bolivia, Paraguay and Nicaragua. However, the implementation of such strategies must be supported by appropriate policies to ensure competitive prices, overcome opportunity costs, and stimulate investments.

Keywords: sustainability; biofuel; bioelectricity; developing countries, sugarcane.

DOI: 10.1016/j.renene.2018.01.024