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Biofuels reduce Uruguay's transport emissions by 7%

Uruguay has achieved a 7 percent approximate average annual reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the transport sector since 2015 thanks to the production and use of biofuels, according to a recent study commissioned by state-owned biofuels producer Alcoholes de Uruguay S.A (Alur).

In 2016, Alur commissioned the 70 million litres per annum capacity Paysabdú ethanol plant (photo courtesy Alur).

According to a statement, Uruguay’s transportation sector has achieved an average annual reduction of 7 percent in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions since 2015 as a result of the increased production and use of biofuels. At the same time, the production of biofuels – biodiesel and bioethanol – show  60-70 percent greenhouse gas (GHG) savings compared to fossil diesel and gasoline.

Four production units

Alur currently produces bioethanol from sugarcane at its Bella Unión agroindustrial complex in Artigas and from sorghum at its Paysandú plant. In Montevideo, biodiesel is produced in two facilities, Paso del la Arena and Capurro, using vegetable oils such as soybean and canola (rapeseed), slaughterhouse waste and used cooking oil (UCO). The total combined annual production capacity is 100 million litres and 83 million litres of ethanol and biodiesel respectively.

The study, which was commissioned by Alur and the National Energy Directorate with the support of the National Research and Innovation Agency, was carried out by the Centre for Energy, Environmental and Technological Research of Spain (CIEMAT).

The study analysed the period 2015-2017 and quantified social, environmental and social impacts of Alur’s biofuels production and consumption. It found that biodiesel as a substitute for oil-based diesel reduces GHG emissions by 70 percent. Bioethanol had GHG reductions of between 60 to 66 percent depending on which feedstock the ethanol is produced from.

These results demonstrate the sustainability of biofuels as it relates to the reduction of greenhouse gases, said Darío Rodríguez, Head of Reasearch & Development for Alur.

With these data, he said that in 2016 the emission of 270 000 tonness of CO2, the equivalent of approximately 7 percent of GHG emissions from transportation in Uruguay, was avoided.

These results are in line with the country’s commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement. Furthermore, it is in keeping with the 2005-2030 energy policy 2005-2030, which sets a target of a 15 percent reduction in the consumption of petroleum-derived fuels in transport.

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