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Business models for commercial scale second-generation bioethanol production

Neto, Antonio Calil, Guimarães, Maria José O.C., Freire, Estevão
Journal of cleaner production 2018 v.184 pp. 168-178
absorption, bioethanol, business enterprises, certification, ethanol, ethanol production, fossil fuels, issues and policy, models, raw materials, straw, sugarcane bagasse
Faced with the prospect of depletion of non-renewable sources of fossil fuels and concerns about the emission of substances that compromise the environment, biofuels, and especially bioethanol, have attracted the attention of researchers, companies and governments. Specifically, the second generation of bioethanol has critical stages in the production process which have been limiting for companies to achieve production on a commercial scale. Although research has sought to overcome such constraints by focusing on technological challenges, it has been recognized that the greater or lesser absorption capacity of technological innovations is related to the business model used. The purpose of this article was to analyze the business models used by Brazilian companies that have achieved commercial scale production of second generation bioethanol, studying their business models as commercial viability instruments of technologies, looking to subsidize companies of this segment in formulating their policies to reach commercial scale. The research was carried out through a methodology based on the content analysis technique, which provided the following categories that served as the basis for the analysis of the business models: company focus, raw material, costs, certification, technology and production. Among the six major second-generation commercial ethanol plants in the world - GranBio, Raízen, Poet-DSM, BetaRenewables, Abengoa (plant bought by Synata Bio) and DuPont - two are Brazilian: GranBio and Raízen, which mainly use sugar cane bagasse and straw as raw material. The study demonstrated that both companies have competitive advantages that are equivalent in most of the categories studied, albeit GranBio’s business model performs better in some other categories due to the strategic partnerships it has established with some of the main companies in the segment, thus, better exploring the benefits of the open innovation environment that characterizes the competitive arena.