Bioelectricity from sugarcane should be expanded in Brazil, says Greenpeace

Monday, November 07, 2011

One of the most important global non-governmental organizations (NGOs) dedicated to environmental preservation, Greenpeace, believes that the bioelectricity produced from sugarcane bagasse is an energy option that should be encouraged because it is sustainable.

Representatives from the organization’s Brazilian chapter visited the Cruz Alta mill, part of the Guarani Group in the town of Olympia (SP) in the company of the Bioelectricity Manager at the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (Unica), Zilmar de Souza.

Greenpeace officials walked away with a positive impression of what they saw: "The complementarity characteristic during periods of low power generation in the Brazilian energy matrix, coupled with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), leads to an extremely positive assessment on the environmental and social issues and motivates broadening the use of bioelectricity in order to meet growing domestic demand," says Ricardo Baitelo, Coordinator of the Renewable Energy Campaign for Greenpeace Brazil.

Interest from Greenpeace in the sugarcane industry and bioelectricity generation was reinforced by the report "Energy Revolution: the path of clean development", released in November of 2010 during the 16th UN Convention on Climate Change (COP-16) in Cancun, Mexico. The study results provide the basis for a documentary on electricity generated from renewable sources, being produced by Greenpeace at different mills, including Cruz Alta.

At the mill, the Greenpeace team collected video for the documentary, including scenes of mechanical harvesting of sugarcane and details of the process that generates bioelectricity and steam in the mill’s thermoelectric unit.

Public policies

In its second edition, the Greenpeace report details a scenario in which by 2050, Brazil may have 93% of its electricity generated from renewable sources. According to the document, bioelectricity represented less than 4% of all electricity generated in Brazil in 2007 and should reach almost 17% by 2050. "To actually create a market for renewable energy, it is necessary to introduce modern policies with comprehensive and ambitious incentive packages," notes one section in the report.

According to Zilmar de Souza, there should be specific energy policies for renewable sources such as bioelectricity, in which sustainability criteria must receive due credit. "Currently, in regulated auctions promoted by the Federal Government, we compete directly with fossil sources of energy, without any differentiation between these sources and without recognition for the environmental advantages of one generation method over others," said Souza.

In the opinion of Guarani Group CEO and Unica board member Jacyr Costa, the Greenpeace visit to the Cruz Alta mill is an important indication that bioelectricity from sugarcane is gradually being viewed by NGO’s in a different perspective. “There is potential to generate the equivalent of three Belo Monte mills in bioelectricity from sugarcane bagasse and straw, with very limited environmental impact. We have all that’s necessary to set a new reference in energy generation,” said the executive. Greenpeace exects to distribute its documentary on bioelectricity in Brazil in the first quarter of 2012.


Tags: sugarcane, bagasse, bioelectricity, sustainability