Felix Kaup



Dissertation subject:

The Sugarcane Complex in Brazil. The role of innovation in a dynamic sector on its path towards sustainability

In science and politics the impacts of extensive cultivation of biomass for energy purposes especially biofuels are still heatedly debated, as well as their application as an instrument of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) mitigation. One of the crucial questions hereby is how far biofuels can be understood as a sustainable energy option and if certification schemes do suffice to enclose and control significant aspects of sustainability.

With regard to biofuels that are currently produced at industrial scale, Brazilian ethanol is attributed with the largest GHG reduction potential and the lowest production costs. Thus the thesis deals with the analysis of the Brazilian “Setor Sucroalcooleiro” (sugar and alcohol sector), follows the question if sugarcane ethanol is in compliance with sustainability and discusses the criteria applied within that context. Therefore social, economic and ecologic impacts of the sugar and ethanol production will be analyzed and collated, moreover possible conflicts for example between social and ecologic aspects will be studied. Finally the interviews that were conducted with Brazilian experts will be analyzed according to the above mentioned questions. 

Hitherto it can be stated that the market development of the sugarcane industry is dominated by economic and technologic aspects such as the world market prices for sugar and oil or cogeneration by the incineration of bagasse. Nevertheless the impact of certification schemes and the coherent discussions on sustainability of the sugar and alcohol sector is palpable. Implementing certification criteria with the entitlement of social, economic and ecologic improvements though may lead to conflicts between the particular criteria.


  • Brüntrup, M., Anders, D., Herrmann, R., Schmitz, J., Kaup, F.: New paths for biofuels in Africa, in: Rural 21, Vol. 44, No 6, 2010

  • Kaup, F.: Nachhaltiger Energieträger Biodiesel? Ökonomische, ökologische und gesellschaftliche Bewertung eines alternativen Treibstoffs. Diploma thesis. Published in April 2006 by the Diplomica publishing house.