The attractiveness of a certain country/region as trade partner for the EU not relates to the availability of biomass, but also to the political stability and local governance, the investment climate and potential projections to use the available biomass for domestic applications (energy and other). Also sustainability governance for forestry or agriculture are considered as this will be an important requirement from EU side for potentially imported biomass. The table below gives an overview of the main strengths and weaknesses of Brazil as a trade partner for biomass with the EU.

SWOT principle






Mobilisation opportunities

Options to mobilise the production/ harvest of biomass for exports

Interest to mobilize cane trash also for 2nd generation ethanol

Focus still lies with sugarcane and sugarcane residues. Little mobilisation expected of other resources

More focus on 2nd generation biofuels could result in higher mobilisation of agricultural residues


Security of supply

Stable amount of exportable biomass available over next 10 years

There are prospects of increasing productivity of extensively managed grasslands (higher yields, but also increasing soil carbon content).





Brazil is investing in advanced ethanol from lignocellulose, and will prefer trade of ethanol instead of biomass

Use of residues for domestic ethanol production could reduce the mobilization for export.

Cost of biomass in ARA ports

€/ton DM and €/GJ

Large potential could offer economies of scale, possibly lowering costs over the longer term


Cost of pretreated residues CIF ARA currently (much) higher than wood pellets

The agricultural area in Brazil Southeast and South is easily accessible for trade with the EU through its Atlantic harbours.


The large in-land distances in Brazil significantly increase supply chain cost

Environmental issues (air, water, biodiversity and soil) are not negatively affected

Feedstock production does not affect negatively local environmental conditions

To some extent, removal of residues may reduce pests. Giving residue a monetary value may also help prevent burning of residues in the field

Large areas of land excluded because of biodiversity. Agricultural production in some states already very high, no room for expansion.

Both the uptake of sustainable forest management (SFM) certification and share of forest management plans are very low, so the sustainability of forest biomass from Brazil is difficult to demonstrate.




Life cycle GHG emissions incl. direct LUC

GHG LCA assessment in agreement with IPCC guidelines along the supply chain

The feedstock production and supply chains shows GHG savings in in the range of 72-88% in comparison with fossil alternatives

A significant  levels of uncertainty remains  about how much residues can be collected sustainably depending on specific local circumstances.



Although at lower rates in the past decades, forest area and carbon stock in forests in Brazil have continued to decline, resulting in elevated levels of greenhouse gas emissions from LULUCF. So Brazilian forest biomass (residues) are still associated with a loss of forest carbon.

Brazil has low average carbon content in its topsoil. Further intensification of harvesting in agriculture may induce sustainability risks.

Social issues are not negatively affected

Feedstock production does not affect negatively local social conditions

Additional job creation due to collecting and processing residues


Workers from local communities are in some cases specifically trained as a preparation for mechanisation in the sugarcane production sector

Increased use of land could result in increased land ownership conflicts


The incidence of child labour is still significant. There are serious issues with safeguarding the rights of Indigenous land owners.

Compliance with legislations remains an issue


Existence of policies and regulations to regulate feedstock production. Implementation/Enforcement of national, local regulations as well as relevant international convention



There are potential issues related to corruption control.

Brazilian modest economic growth projections and average levels of country governance, make Brazil a relatively stable trade market for the EU.