Shell has combined forces with Brazilian ethanol company Cosan and launched a $12 billion joint venture, named Raizen, in one of the biggest biofuel deals to date.
Plans for the venture were announced last March when investors were told to expect annual revenues of $21 billion.
The new company aims to produce and sell more than 2 billion litres of ethanol derived from Brazilian sugarcane annually, as well as 20 billion litres of conventional fuels. It will operate initially only in Brazil, where it will be the third largest fuels company, but plans later to export ethanol.
Biofuels are expected to make up around 40% of Brazil’s transport fuel mix by 2030, Shell says, double the current level. Globally, the company expects biofuels to represent about 9% of road transport fuel demand in 2030, a three-fold increase on today’s share.
The ethanol production process used by Raizen is said to be far more efficient at converting biomass into fuel than other major approaches. Brazilian sugarcane yields 7,000 litres of ethanol per hectare compared to 3,800 litres/hectare of corn in the US and 2,500 litres/hectare of wheat in Europe, according to the Brazilian sugarcane industry association.
In addition to the ethanol production facilities previously owned by Cosan, Raizen will also own Shell’s interest in two second-generation biofuel companies – 50% of Canada-based cellulosic ethanol company Iogen and 16% of California-based enzyme company Codexis.
By. Graham Cooper
Source: Environmental Finance