Raízen opens world's largest second-generation ethanol plant
Photo courtesy of Raízen

Raízen opens world’s largest second-generation ethanol plant

Raízen, a leading global producer of ethanol from sugarcane, has inaugurated its state-of-the-art second generation ethanol (E2G) plant at the Bonfim Bioenergy Complex. With an investment of BRL1.2 billion (USD230 million), this new facility is the largest of its kind in the world, boasting an annual production capacity of 82 million litres (21.6 million gallons). Remarkably, 80% of this capacity is already secured under long-term contracts. Raízen is a joint venture between Shell plc and the Brazilian energy producer Cosan.

The Bonfim Bioenergy Complex is located in Guariba, in the state of São Paulo, Brazil. This facility is part of Raízen’s extensive network aimed at producing renewable energy solutions. Guariba, situated in one of Brazil’s key agricultural regions, provides an ideal location for bioenergy production, leveraging the area’s abundant sugarcane resources. This strategic positioning not only supports Raízen’s sustainability goals but also aligns with broader efforts to innovate in the renewable energy sector.

“With a carbon footprint 85% smaller than American gasoline and 30% smaller than first-generation ethanol (E1G), this product is an important technological innovation in the bioenergy sector and an example that demonstrates the profitability of the circular economy. It stands out for reducing waste and environmental impact, since it increases production up to 50% without requiring a single additional hectare of sugarcane and does not compete with food production,” said Ricardo Mussa, CEO of Raízen.

Technological and environmental milestone

Innovative approach: Raízen’s E2G technology uses lignocellulosic biomass to produce ethanol, significantly reducing waste and environmental impact. The E2G ethanol has a carbon footprint 85% lower than traditional gasoline and 30% lower than E1G.

Strategic expansion: The Bonfim plant joins Raízen’s existing E2G facility at the Costa Pinto Bioenergy Complex, enhancing the company’s position as the largest producer of industrial-scale second-generation ethanol globally. Together, these plants have a combined production capacity of 112 million litres per year. Raízen plans to expand further, with nine additional E2G plants under construction and 11 more planned, aiming for a total production capacity of 1.6 billion litres annually.

“E2G is a key product in the energy transition that meets sustainability mandates from the most demanding markets and from sectors with the greatest urgency for potentially greener and scalable solutions. The Bonfim site, together with the E2G plant at the Costa Pinto Bioenergy Complex, solidifies Raízen’s position as the world’s largest ethanol producer operating two industrial-scale E2G plants, with a total capacity of 112 million litres per year,” said Mussa.

Economic and social impact

Job creation and training: The construction of the new E2G plants is expected to create more than 17,000 direct and indirect jobs. Raízen has also launched the E2G Learning program in collaboration with institutions like SENAI and State Technical Schools to train the workforce required for these advanced facilities.

Community benefits: The E2G plants will drive economic growth in their host communities by increasing local participation in state funds and supporting more than 500 suppliers and companies involved in the production and operation processes.

Sustainable finance

Green investments: Raízen has proactively integrated sustainable finance into its operations, with 35% of its debt linked to green projects, including the new E2G plants. The company’s commitment to sustainability is further evidenced by its issuance of green bonds and its goal to increase renewable energy production by 80% by 2030.