Lessons from Brazil

Introduction

What if I told you that the key to U.S. energy independence is for each person to use 3 times the energy of the average Brazilian? Don’t believe me? See why in the following essay, also posted to The Oil Drum.

“Brazil has it figured out; why can’t we?” The following claim from Tom Daschle and Vinod Khosla appeared in their recent New York Times editorial, Miles Per Cob (now behind a pay wall):

As Brazil’s “energy independence miracle” proves, an aggressive strategy of investing in petroleum substitutes like ethanol can end dependence on imported oil.

You may have also recently seen Dan Rather’s report The Ethanol Solution, in which he gushes over Brazil’s ethanol success and wonders why we don’t heed their example. Perhaps you heard Frank Sesno on CNN’s We Were Warned ask why the U.S. is not following Brazil’s example. The mainstream media have it figured out. The politicians have it figured out. Many ordinary Americans have it figured out. We just need to apply the Brazilian example to the U.S., and we will end our dependence on foreign oil. But is it as simple as that? Let’s investigate.

Warning: Reality Check Ahead

According to Per Capita Oil Consumption and Production, oil consumption in Brazil is 4.2 barrels per person per year. In the U.S., oil consumption is 27 barrels per person per year, 6.4 times as much per person as Brazil’s.

However, we do produce much more oil per person than Brazil. Each year the U.S. produces 11 barrels per person, compared to 3.35 barrels per person for Brazil. In order to achieve energy independence, the gap between demand and production must be closed. Brazil has to close a gap of 0.85 barrels per person per year (4.2 – 3.35). They produce sufficient ethanol to close this gap, and therefore they are energy independent. The U.S., on the other hand, has to close a gap of 16 barrels per person per year. The U.S. gap in production/demand is almost 19 times greater than the production/demand gap in Brazil. (See Note below the essay).

Clearly, the U.S. has quite a large gap to close. But this is a difficult proposition. Not only do we use more energy per person, but the population of the U.S. is 110 million greater than that of Brazil. According to my calculations, we can’t possibly hope to close the production/demand gap with grain ethanol. Others have shown the futility of closing that gap with cellulosic ethanol here and here.

The Real Lesson from Brazil

Yes, Brazil has in fact “figured it out” with respect to energy independence. But the reason they achieved energy independence is primarily because of their frugal energy usage, not because of ethanol. Increase their energy usage to U.S. levels, and the “energy independence miracle” would quickly vanish. This is the factor that the media and the politicians have overlooked. On the other hand, if the U.S. had the same per capita energy consumption as Brazil, we would be net oil exporters. In fact, our per capita energy consumption could be 11 barrels per person per year – triple the consumption of Brazil – and our production and demand would be in balance. We would be energy independent.

The real lesson from Brazil is that energy independence can be achieved by slashing our energy usage. It is simply not realistic to expect the U.S. to achieve energy independence with biofuels – unless we sharply curb our consumption. The next time you hear someone say we should emulate Brazil’s example, ask them to calculate the amount of ethanol this would require, and ask them how we are supposed to produce that much. It is time to start demanding details from the “Brazil believers”. In doing so, we may convey the gravity of the situation to those who think ethanol will lead us to energy independence.

Note: As some pointed out in the comments, this analysis overlooked the contribution the ethanol is making toward closing that gap. Some asserted that if not for ethanol, Brazil’s per capita oil consumption would be “much higher” than the 4.2 bbl/person that I quoted. Some even suggested that it would be twice as high. Not true. Here are the calculations that I did below in the comments:

Yes, in fact the gap would be larger if not for ethanol. But not by much. With production of 4 billion gallons per year, a population of 190 million people, and with ethanol having an energy content only 67% of gasoline’s, that amounts to 0.3 bbl/year/person. So, if ethanol was not in the picture, there would be a supply/demand gap of 1.15 bbl/yr/person for 2004.

But, we also have to do the same exercise for the U.S. We make and use about the same amount of ethanol. So, ethanol is filling a gap for us as well. But, since our population is higher, the gap is 0.2 bbl/yr/person. So, the overall net is an increase in Brazil’s gap by 0.3 and an increase in the U.S. gap by 0.2 – to 16.2 bbl/yr/person. We now have a gap in the U.S. that is 16.2/1.15, or 14 times greater than Brazil’s (not 19).

So, it doesn’t make too much difference.

30 thoughts on “Lessons from Brazil”

  1. Another great argument- economically sound and all. My biggest pet peave with most arguments is that they make no economic sense. I’ve heard “we just need to subsidize ethanol to be like Brazil” and “we just need to cut our consumption and go into renewable sources.”

    The problem in my mind is, if we need to curb our consumption, wouldn’t this hurt the economy? Is most of the consumption from personal or corporate use? Is it a matter of individuals being more conscious of their energy use or is it a matter that we must restructure our business- or both?

  2. As usual Robert, an excellent post.

    My take on those that say, “Brazil can do it, so we can too.” is that they don’t understand the situation. They are comparing apples to mangoes. Here is what they are missing when they say that:

    · It is about eight times as efficient making alcohol from the sugar in cane as from the starch in corn.

    · Brazil has the climate and soils conducive to growing sugar cane. (We have the right combination of soils, climate, and latitude in only four states: Florida, Louisiana, Hawaii, and parts of Texas.)

    · Brazil has vast tracts of inexpensive, undeveloped land at the tropical latitudes conducive to growing cane. When they need more land, all they have to do is clear more of the Amazon basin, while ignoring the affect of that on the environment.

    · Brazil has a large supply of dirt-cheap, machete-swinging manual laborers. We don’t have or want that in the U.S. Our farmers are understandably reluctant to wade into their cornfields swinging a machete.

    · But by far the biggest difference is that on a per capita basis, Brazil uses only 12% as much energy for transportation as we do. If they increased their transportation energy use eight-fold to match ours, they too would have to import oil. (Much of Brazil is still a third-world country. If the standard of living in all of Brazil increased to our level, they could not be self-sufficient on cane ethanol.)

    It’s nice that Brazil can run most of their cars on ethanol. But those who say we just need to do what Brazil does, don’t understand the situation.

    If we reduced our per capita energy consumption for transportation by a factor of eight to Brazil’s level, we too could be self-sufficient. But I don’t think those who want us to adopt the Brazil model understand that to reduce our transportation energy use to Brazil’s level, we would have to return to living as we did in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

    Best,

    Gary Dikkers

  3. gary dikkers wrote: to reduce our transportation energy use to Brazil’s level, we would have to return to living as we did in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

    Gary, that certainly is not the case. They didn’t have hybrids like the Prius in the 20’s or 30’s, and they certainly didn’t have PHEVs with Li-ion batteries. If you tell people that conservation means they will have to suffer, they will fight it. We don’t have to suffer, we just have to not be stupid.

  4. Apparently, RR has a problem with facts and math. Anyway, he did somehow manage to arrive at the correct solution….we are energy pigs, with no public transportation and cars that get really bad gas mileage.

    Brazil produces enough ethanol to replace 40% of their gasoline demand and have enough left over to export. If you take away their ethanol, the per capita usage would go up to about 7 barrels a year. Assuming the numbers RR is using are correct.

    In other words, the gap Brazil is filling is 3.5 barrels not .85. The U.S. gap in production/demand is 4.6 times greater than the production/demand gap in Brazil, not 19 as RR claims. RR was only off by 413%.

    And, why do anti-ethanol people always want to use 100% of our corn for ethanol? Apparently, they are the only ones want to.

    Hmm..Using references to flawed data from other blogs is not much of an argument.

  5. Robert, I think this is your best post yet (and the first one I agree with 100% 🙂

    Gary, George, If we conserve wisely, we will neither suffer nor go back to the 1920s. Personally, I think telecommuting could save energy and reduce suffering (time spent stuck in traffic) at the same time. Even if only a portion of the population did it, it would have the benefit of less traffic congestion for those who can’t.

  6. Apparently, RR has a problem with facts and math.

    Let’s see, shall we?

    Brazil produces enough ethanol to replace 40% of their gasoline demand and have enough left over to export.

    As Gary points out above, Brazil has a fraction of the transportation fuel demand that we do here in the U.S. Brazil made 4 billion gallons of ethanol in 2004. According to The CIA Factbook, oil consumption in Brazil in 2004 was 1.6 million barrels per day. That’s 24.5 billion gallons of oil per year. That means ethanol contributed 16.3% on a volumetric basis to the total liquid energy pool. But since ethanol has a lower energy content, 4 billion gallons of ethanol is the energy equivalent of 2.8 billion gallons of gasoline. So, their ethanol production is equivalent to about 11% of their petroleum demand. That echoes what David Victor, the director of the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development at Stanford University, wrote here:

    Brazil’s Ethanol Lesson Is How to Manage Our Oil Addiction

    David Victor: In reality, ethanol is a minor player in Brazilian energy supply. It accounts for less than one-tenth of all the country’s energy liquids.

    If you take away their ethanol, the per capita usage would go up to about 7 barrels a year.

    Wrong assumptions on your part = wrong conclusions. The numbers I quoted in this essay, also available from the EIA, are actual petroleum consumption and production. The gap, 0.85 bbl/person/day, amounts to a shortfall of 6.8 billion gallons per year between their supply and demand. Until recently, they imported some oil and made up the rest of the difference with ethanol. Now, because of a new oil production platform that Petrobas just brought online, they are in balance.

    In other words, the gap Brazil is filling is 3.5 barrels not .85. The U.S. gap in production/demand is 4.6 times greater than the production/demand gap in Brazil, not 19 as RR claims. RR was only off by 413%.

    I will give you the opportunity to retract that and correct your math. The mistake is yours, not mine. A gap of 3.5 barrels would be 28 billion gallons a year (of gasoline equivalent) for Brazil. They make about 4 billion gallons of ethanol, which has the energy content of 2.8 billion gallons of gasoline. But hey, you were only off by 1,000%.

    And, why do anti-ethanol people always want to use 100% of our corn for ethanol? Apparently, they are the only ones want to.

    Who said anything about using 100% of our corn? Calculating how much ethanol we could make by using 100% of our corn just demonstrates the futility of this ethanol independence dream. We couldn’t do it even if we turned all of our corn into ethanol. That’s the point. The proponents keep pointing to breakthroughs that have yet to come. How do we know this won’t be like shale oil, whose proponents have been promising that it is on the cusp of economic viability for 100 years?

    Hmm..Using references to flawed data from other blogs is not much of an argument.

    That data are all readily available at the EIA. It is just in multiple locations. I actually pulled the data from there first, but was going to have to use 3 or 4 different references instead of 1. But you are welcome to look for contradictory data. Just make sure it isn’t propaganda. Go to the EIA, and show me where my numbers are wrong. But next time, use the preview function before you click on “Publish”. It might save further embarrassment.

    RR

  7. You are the one who uses faulty analysis. Brazil displaces a large percentage of their oil consumption with ethanol. You made no attempt, none, to account for this fact.

    ” So, their ethanol production is equivalent to about 11% of their petroleum demand.” ???

    Ethanol accounts for more than 40% of the fuel Brazilians use in their cars http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/02/06/8367959/index.htm

    replaces gasoline at the rate of about 27,000 cubic metres per day, or about 40% of the fuel that would be needed to run the fleet on gasoline alone
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol_fuel_in_Brazil

  8. You are the one who uses faulty analysis.

    Says the owner of the 1,000% error. Frankly, I am surprised to see you here again after that last post.

    Brazil displaces a large percentage of their oil consumption with ethanol. You made no attempt, none, to account for this fact.

    LOL! No attempt? None? Now I know you are a troll.

    The majority of my post was devoted to showing exactly that Brazil can’t displace a large percentage of their oil consumption, since they don’t make enough ethanol to do so. They replace about 10%, as shown in my analysis from actual government sources of their oil consumption. Perhaps you should read it again, for comprehension this time?

    You should quit before you dig that credibility hole any deeper. Maybe you should apply some critical thinking skills to the problem before responding again.

    Here, I will throw you a softball. Do you still maintain that ethanol is filling a production gap of 3.5 bbl/person/day? Or are you ready to retract that claim, given that that’s 10 times greater than their ethanol production?

    RR

  9. You are the one who uses faulty analysis. Brazil displaces a large percentage of their oil consumption with ethanol. You made no attempt, none, to account for this fact.

  10. You are the one who uses faulty analysis. Brazil displaces a large percentage of their oil consumption with ethanol. You made no attempt, none, to account for this fact.

    Just wanted everyone to see this – the second time he wrote the exact same thing – in case boodog decides later to delete it. After this, I will start deleting “boodog’s” posts. He got owned, and he realizes it. So, he thinks it will be cute just to keep repeating himself over and over, as if someone can’t just read my rebuttal above. I hate to censor anyone, and have done so only to spammers up to this point, but “boodog” has used up my goodwill.

    He is clearly an ethanol investor -having refused several times to answer that question – and is probably not actually interested in debating the substantive issues. Notice that he never answered my questions, designed to lead him to the answers he needed. After he was rebutted, he just started saying the same thing over and over. Sad, really. The decent thing to do would have been to admit his error.

    RR

  11. I just deleted a repetitive post from “boodog”. I will continue to do so, as he has proven himself to be a troll out to waste my time and take up bandwidth. If he wishes to answer the question I posed, I will leave his post untouched. Here it is again: Do you still maintain that ethanol is filling a production gap of 3.5 bbl/person/day? Or are you ready to retract that claim, given that that’s 10 times greater than their ethanol production?

    When boo is ready to acknowledge that his analysis is not even in the ballpark (or explain himself) then he can post here. I have no problem with contradictory opinions. But I do have a problem with spam, and writing repetitive points that do not address the questions that have asked are a waste of everyone’s time.

    RR

  12. Ha Ha Ha…cant stand the heat

    Brazil displaces a large percentage of their annual oil consumption with ethanol. You never took this into account when you made your analysis. You used annual per capita oil consumption without taking this fact into account.

    If Brazil did not use ethanol, the annual per capita oil consumption in Brazil would be 4.2 + the ethanol/oil equivalent replacement.

    You can play with the numbers all you want, but your analysis is flawed from the very beginning.

    I just wanted to make sure every body knows you are incompetent.

    From your original post.

    According to Per Capita Oil Consumption and Production, oil consumption in Brazil is 4.2 barrels per person per year.

  13. The latest content-free post from my new resident troll:

    Ha Ha Ha…cant stand the heat

    Brazil displaces a large percentage of their annual oil consumption with ethanol. You never took this into account when you made your analysis. You used annual per capita oil consumption without taking this fact into account.

    If Brazil did not use ethanol, the annual per capita oil consumption in Brazil would be 4.2 + the ethanol/oil equivalent replacement.

    You can play with the numbers all you want, but your analysis is flawed from the very beginning.

    I just wanted to make sure every body knows you are incompetent.

    From your original post.

    According to Per Capita Oil Consumption and Production, oil consumption in Brazil is 4.2 barrels per person per year.

    11:13 PM

    I am going to leave this one last post from boodog standing, so it is clear to everyone why I am about to take certain actions to combat this sort of thing. Note that this ethanol investor is still claiming that Brazil displaces a large percentage of their oil use with ethanol. I have shown that to be patently false. So, how does he address that? By repeating his claim.

    Note that he claims to have a degree in mechanical engineering, says he worked in a refinery, and thinks it takes more energy to produce gasoline than you get out of the gasoline! See his comments in the E85 thread. Of course he said he no longer works in refining. Hmm. I wonder why?

    Someone’s competence is certainly on display here, but it isn’t mine. It is the person who hides behind a pseudonym and still can’t admit to his 1,000% error above. I do note that you have retreated from your earlier claims, though. Just like you back-pedaled in the E85 thread away from your 1.27 EROI challenge. But the funny thing is: Since you are the one back-pedaling, don’t you think your own competence is the issue here?

    Here are your questions again: Do you still maintain that ethanol is filling a production gap of 3.5 bbl/person/day? Or are you ready to retract that claim, given that that’s 10 times greater than their ethanol production?

    When you are ready to answer those, I will stop deleting your posts. But otherwise, you are done here. Your IP address is logged, and none of your identities will be allowed to post tripe from that provider. Continue, and I will lodge a complaint with your provider.

    RR

  14. You know, boodog is a slow learner. He still keeps trying to make repetitious posts even after I turned on comment moderation. He is still refusing to answer my questions, but demanding that I answer his. Since I am a nice guy, I will answer his question. I still don’t think he will answer mine, though. Here is the question he keeps asking, in response to my question about his claim of the production gap: “The better question is..do you still claim the production gap is .85?”

    Let’s review. I claimed the production gap was 0.85 bbl/yr/person in Brazil. That is the difference between the oil that is consumed and the oil that is produced. Boo claimed that the actual production gap that Brazil is filling with ethanol is 3.5 bbl/yr/person. As I pointed out, this is impossible since it is 10 times the annual ethanol production. But would the gap be higher than 0.85 bbl/yr/person if not for ethanol? This was the only useful function boo played, despite making numerous posts in 2 threads the past 2 days.

    As I have said many times, I love feedback, and I firmly believe it can be used to strengthen arguments. Boo has provided some useful feedback, although the signal/noise ratio was rather low. Yes, in fact the gap would be larger if not for ethanol. But not by much. With production of 4 billion gallons per year, a population of 190 million people, and with ethanol having an energy content only 67% of gasoline’s, that amounts to 0.3 bbl/year/person. So, if ethanol was not in the picture, there would be a supply/demand gap of 1.15 bbl/yr/person for 2004.

    But, we also have to do the same exercise for the U.S. We make and use about the same amount of ethanol. So, ethanol is filling a gap for us as well. But, since our population is higher, the gap is 0.2 bbl/yr/person. So, the overall net is an increase in Brazil’s gap by 0.3 and an increase in the U.S. gap by 0.2 – to 16.2 bbl/yr/person. We now have a gap in the U.S. that is 16.2/1.15, or 14 times greater than Brazil’s (not 19). Boo claimed the gap was 4.6, but that’s because he was a factor of 10 too high on his estimate of how much ethanol the gap actually filled. He never showed any interest in correcting this error, and started spamming the forum about the time I pointed it out.

    So, the bottom line: Does this change any conclusions at all about the essay? Does the fact that the gap is 14 times greater than Brazil’s instead of almost 19 times greater change anything? Of course not. But for this, I have been spammed and insulted repeatedly by this person, who couldn’t acknowledge his much, much larger error, and never could demonstrate that he could do energy balance calculations in the E85 thread (he thinks it is more energy efficient to produce ethanol than gasoline, but refuses to do the calculations that would prove otherwise). But, I believe I am a bigger man than that. I thank him for the slight modification to my calculations, and curse him for the 99% of what he posted that was absolutely of no value.

    However, if he wants to post here, and is willing to deal with the questions I have posed for him that he has avoided, I am willing to turn comment moderation back off and let boo post freely again. But we won’t have a repeat of his last 2 dozen posts.

    RR

  15. Well said, Robert.
    Whining louder and repeating the same patently false and easily disproveable mantra does little to advance a cause or claim.

  16. Here’s a little more information to back up Robert Rapier’s points.

    This presentation from the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy confirms Roberts figures, giving the quantity of ethanol as 17% of vehicle fuel by volume.

    http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTENERGY/Resources/336805-1137702984816/2135734-1142446048455/Br azilianPresentation.ppt#266,9,Slide
    See slide #9 (caution, large file).

    Using figures of 75,700 BTU/gallon for ethanol vrs 155,000 for gasoline (http://bioenergy.ornl.gov/papers/misc/energy_conv.html), you get a figure of 11.2% of vehicle fuel energy from ethanol.

    Pretty pathetic.

  17. I reformatted those links so they are clickable. Below is your comment again with clickable links.

    There are a couple of things I would point out. The BTU value of gasoline is actually about 125,000 BTUs, which would make the 11.2% you calculated a bit higher. However, the Brazilian presentation shows that half of that 17% alcohol is hydrated. In other words, water is included in the volume. This would tend to push your calculation lower. The net is that you are probably in the ballpark with 11.2%. None of the published studies I have seen support that 40% claim that I have seen floating around.

    RR

    —————-

    Here’s a little more information to back up Robert Rapier’s points.

    This presentation from the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy confirms Roberts figures, giving the quantity of ethanol as 17% of vehicle fuel by volume.

    Ethanol in Brazil: A Successful Experience

    See slide #9 (caution, large file).

    Using figures of 75,700 BTU/gallon for ethanol vrs 155,000 for gasoline-
    Bioenergy Conversion Factors

    – you get a figure of 11.2% of vehicle fuel energy from ethanol.

    Pretty pathetic.

  18. RR,

    I came across two statistics today that help explain why Brazil can be self-sufficient on cane ethanol and we can’t:

    * Only 23 of each 100 households in Brazil own a car. In the U.S. that figure is over 90%.

    * Brazil has one car for every 11.6 people. We have one car for every three people.

    The simple fact is that Brazil owns far fewer cars per capita, and per capita they use only 12% as much energy for transportation as we do.

    If you are Brazilian, your primary mode of transportation is to take the bus. Most Brazilians don’t jump in their cars to drive to work or to the market, because most Brazilians don’t have cars.

    That fact explains a great deal of the reason they can fill their need for motor fuel with their own cane ethanol.

    If they had as many cars as we do, they would also need to import oil.

    Regards,

    Gary Dikkers

  19. To further this discussion, it is important to point out that my original post contains a couple of hastily typed “fat finger” mistakes that I’d like to correct now.

    First, the 155,000 btu quantity I quoted was a simple mistype on my part, it is both 125,000 btu on the website linked to and in my original calculations.
    From there, simple ratios (algebra) kick in, which is where I made my second mistake:

    125kbtu / 75.7kbtu = “Unknown” / 17%

    Solving, “Unknown” = 10.3%

    This is even lower than I originally stated, and jives with the comments of David Victor, the director of the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development at Stanford University, wrote in his article ‘Brazil’s Ethanol Lesson Is How to Manage Our Oil Addiction’

    “David Victor: In reality, ethanol is a minor player in Brazilian energy supply. It accounts for less than one-tenth of all the country’s energy liquids.”

    To top it off, as Robert has noted, almost half that ethanol is hydrated, so the effective useful quantity (water removed) is even lower still.

    It appears that the key lesson to take away from Brazil is that biofuels will be a minor player in any future scenario.

  20. It’s great that the conclusion was that the real lesson from Brazil is that energy independence means cutting off consumption.

    However, there are a few things worth clarifying:

    Brazil has vast tracts of inexpensive, undeveloped land at the tropical latitudes conducive to growing cane. When they need more land, all they have to do is clear more of the Amazon basin, while ignoring the affect of that on the environment.

    Well, I am not an expert, but (as far as I know) the rainforest area is not the best place for sugar kane, specially because it rains too much. However, Brazil does have a lot of potential in other areas, so I wouldn’t worry about the Amazon basin.

    I would worry much more about all the pollution of cars. That brings me to:

    But I don’t think those who want us to adopt the Brazil model understand that to reduce our transportation energy use to Brazil’s level, we would have to return to living as we did in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

    Only if living in the 1920’s/30’s means using more public transportation. It doesn’t sound that bad to me. It’s obvious that there aren’t as many cars in Brazil as in the U.S., but our consumption is also smaller because whe don’t just take our cars to go to the local grocery store. That is worth learning from, I guess.

    If you are Brazilian, your primary mode of transportation is to take the bus. Most Brazilians don’t jump in their cars to drive to work or to the market, because most Brazilians don’t have cars.

    I would add to that: and the ones who do have a car don’t just use it as if it had no impact in the environment. It also causes traffic jams. Most car owners I know drive only on weekends, simply because going everywhere by car is not necessary.

    I’m avoiding to sound too nacionalist, since I’m not, but I don’t really like when a relevant discussion ends up in any stereotype being used as an argument.

  21. When we talk about “Americans” using a high per capita energy than others — are we talking about “all” Americans?

    I mean, I live in a moderate one-bedroom apartment. I drive 6 miles to work and back and I take the bus (a hybrid model) a lot for trips to the city.

    My total energy bill is something like $50 in winter, and $30 in summer.

    So, who’s using all the energy? And for what?

  22. This article is completely moronic.
    The author states that to become energy independent, all the US has to do is slash their oil use. Daaa! What a great discopvery. Here’s an even better idea: stop using oil completely! Let’s just buy horses and go to work in wagons. What’s that you say? It will drive the economy down? And how is slashing our oil use supposed to be possible without driving the economy down? What’s the author’s magical formula to keep our economy going at the current level without using the same amount of oil? The oil we use is being used for something, and unless you find an other energy source to use instead, you will just have to stop doing that something.
    And don’t give me that crap about using energy-efficient cars: the economy made by these cars is minimal. Most of the oil is not used for cars, but for things like heating and producing electricity.

  23. The economy? Please! As it is structured presently, a ponzi scheme based on continuous infusion of foreign credit, the inordinately paper asset-bloated F.I.I.R.E. (finance, insurance, investment, and real estate) sector, endless sprawl development, and 10,000 mile supply chains to factories in China, is not going to survive a major energy crunch, (or currency crisis, or economic crisis) much less what is coming in term of peak oil. It will become a shadow of its former self, regardless.

    Would you worry about whether or not you’d set your alarm clock when the house is on fire? Priorities!

  24. This article is completely moronic.
    The author states that to become energy independent, all the US has to do is slash their oil use. Daaa! What a great discopvery.

    Wow! Talk about missing the point. The article was addressed to those who think that the U.S. can emulate Brazil by growing all of their fuel. The article pointed out 1). This isn’t true; and 2). Brazil uses a tiny fraction of U.S. energy per capita. But you apparently read one or two sentences and came up with that gem.

  25. i konw this article is a little old, but you made a big mistake in yor math

    you subtracted the amount of oil consuption in Brazil to the amount of the prodution, but you didn´t realized one thing, brazil doesn´t consumes 4.2 barrels percapita a day and have ethanol replacing part of that, brazil consumes 4.2 + the ethanol, if brazil didn´t have ethanol, the consuption per capita would be higher, probably around 9 to 10 barrels pc a day

    other things that you should take into consideration, in Brazil most of the cars are considerable more economic per mile than the ones in the US and Brazil also supress the usage of cars, all is part of the energy policy and not a simple replacement of one kind of fuel for the other

    there is also the fact that in Brazil is not necessary to use fuel for heat, wich is responsible for a considerable part of us consumption and that can be replaced by other kinds of biofuels

    in other words, in the US there is a loooot of waste in energy, big cars taking only one person to the jobs, cities planned for the use of cars, government incentives for people buy and use cars, subsides to gas prices, in replacement of public transportation and etc

    so is not that the americans would have to go back living like in 1920´s 30´s, is that the americans would have to learn how to use fuel in a more eficient way instead of wasting

    i agree with you when you say about having more efficient cars, but that alone won´t do either ( Brazil also did that), is necessary all the alternatives you can get, and that includes ethanol

    antoher thing is that you are considering that Brazil if Brazil necessities was higher, Brazil would be importing oil, thats also not true, Brazil produces the amount of ethanol and oil that it needs, but Brazil is way far from it cappacities in both areas, if Brazil need more, Brazil wold be producing more, not importing

  26. i konw this article is a little old, but you made a big mistake in yor math

    Not a big mistake, JJ. Look at the comments, and you will see that it was addressed there. Here is what I wrote up the page:

    Yes, in fact the gap would be larger if not for ethanol. But not by much. With production of 4 billion gallons per year, a population of 190 million people, and with ethanol having an energy content only 67% of gasoline’s, that amounts to 0.3 bbl/year/person. So, if ethanol was not in the picture, there would be a supply/demand gap of 1.15 bbl/yr/person for 2004.

    But, we also have to do the same exercise for the U.S. We make and use about the same amount of ethanol. So, ethanol is filling a gap for us as well. But, since our population is higher, the gap is 0.2 bbl/yr/person. So, the overall net is an increase in Brazil’s gap by 0.3 and an increase in the U.S. gap by 0.2 – to 16.2 bbl/yr/person. We now have a gap in the U.S. that is 16.2/1.15, or 14 times greater than Brazil’s (not 19).

    So, it doesn’t make too much difference. Certainly not a large error.

  27. Gary Dick…Most of Brazil is still a third world!? hahahahah Have u ever been to Rio Gde do Sul, Santa Catarina, Parana and Sao Paulo States? I don´t think so! Yeah Brazil still have third world part such as in the north, but the south is completely industrialized. And not of all USA is first World, where living conditions are very poor.

Comments are closed.