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August 8, 2019

Sugar Mills have the Capacity to Generate 9% of Brazil's Electricity

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

One of the unique qualities of Brazil's sugarcane mills is the fact that many mills use the residue from sugarcane processing to generate more than enough electricity to operate the mill with the excess electricity sold into the electrical grid.

According to data from the Union of Sugarcane Industries (Unica), the installed electrical generation capacity of Brazil sugarcane mills represents 9% of Brazil's generation capacity. That puts sugarcane mills in fourth position in electrical generation behind hydroelectric, natural gas, and wind generated electricity.

Increasing the amount of "zero carbon" electricity is part of RenovaBio (National Political Biofuel Program), which is a strategic plan to attract investments in the biofuel sector including cogeneration of electricity in Brazil's sugarcane mills. With RenovaBio, the government and the biofuel sector hope to incentivize the expansion of biofuels with new investments by creating a more secure regulatory environment with assurances that the sector will continue to expand.

The amount of bioelectricity generated in Brazil in 2018 was the equivalent of the annual consumption of 11.4 million households and it prevted the emission of 6.4 million tons of carbon dioxide which would be equal to the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by 45 million native tress for a 20 year period. Bioelectricity is also being produced in Brazil using wood, biogas, vegetative material, rice hulls, elephant grass, and other biomass materials.

The Brazilian National Biofuels Laboratory (LNBR) is conducting research on "zero carbon" electricity through its Renewable Sugarcane Electricity Project (SUCRE), which is being financed by the Global Environment Facility in conjunction with the United Nation's Development Program.

Representatives of the sector believe that RenovaBio including biofuels and bioelectricity has the potential for 60% growth by the year 2030. Bioelectricity and other topics will be discussed at the 27th FENASUCRO & AGROCANA trade show on August 20-23 at Sertaozinho, Sao Paulo. This is the largest sugarcane trade show that includes the entire sugarcane/sugar/ethanol sector.