10 Top Biofuel Crops



If there is one country that has done the most to wean itself from oil and increase its use of biofuel, it is Brazil. The South American country started going green after the 1973 Middle East oil embargo reduced shipments of oil worldwide. When the price of oil climbed, the Brazilian government encouraged its farmers to plant more sugarcane. They then processed that sugarcane into ethanol. Brazil invested billions of dollars to make the transition and eventually sugarcane ethanol became less expensive than gasoline. By the mid-1980s, every driver in Brazil was driving a vehicle that was ethanol-powered. Today, almost all cars in Brazil have "flexible" fuel engines that can run on either gasoline or ethanol [source: Walker].

Brazil's climate is well suited to growing sugarcane. However, producing ethanol from sugarcane is six times less expensive than producing ethanol from corn. Growing sugarcane requires fewer chemicals, including pesticides and fertilizers [source: Cox]. But when harvesting sugarcane, farmers must burn their fields, which spews massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.