Antagonistic bioenergies: Technological divergence of the ethanol industry in Brazil
We present evidence for the coexistence of two antagonistic sugarcane ethanol production technologies in Brazil, with the Southeast region of the country having relatively mechanized production processes, and the Northeast area using labor-intensive ones. We highlight the main differences between the hand-production and fully automated mechanical manufacturing in the Brazilian ethanol industry and examine the historical, political, and economic factors that induced this regional technology gap that is currently observed. We then construct an environmental model based on a 375-industry interregional input–output system for the Brazilian regions, in order to determine the extent to which the primitive ethanol production of Northern Brazil differs from the automated manufacture technologies of the South in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. We show that ethanol produced with modern technologies generates lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than ethanol produced with traditional production processes. We also demonstrate that ethanol, regardless of the technology with which it was produced, is more carbon-efficient than petrochemical products.
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