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Brazilian biomass-powered electricity expands 11 percent over last year

By
Renzo Pipoli
Brazilian use of electricity generated from biomass, most of it from sugar cane, has increased 11 percent in January-August from the same period a year earlier, according to information from the country's sugar cane producer association Unica. Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay
Brazilian use of electricity generated from biomass, most of it from sugar cane, has increased 11 percent in January-August from the same period a year earlier, according to information from the country's sugar cane producer association Unica. Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay

Oct. 18 (UPI) -- The Brazilian production of electricity from biomass, mostly produced from sugar cane material and then fed into the country's power grid, increased 11 percent during January-August from a year earlier.

The country's association of sugar cane producers, know as Unica for its Portuguese acronym, said that the total biomass generation from January to August has reached 17,291 gigawatt-hours, or 11 percent more than in the same period a year ago, according to a report released Wednesday.

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"For comparison purposes, that energy generated for the grid is equivalent to supplying power to 9.2 million homes during an entire year, which prevent the emission of 5.1 million TCo2, a mark that is only achieved with the cultivation of 36 million trees during 20 years," Unica said the report. TCo2 is a measure of carbon dioxide.

As much as 82 percent of the biomass used is derived from sugar cane, the organization added.

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Sugar cane biomass for power generations is mostly available in Brazil during the sugar cane harvest. While harvesting periods vary according to regions, most of the sugar cane biomass is ready to be used between April and August, Unica said.

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During August, 7.4 percent of the country's total electricity generation came from Sugar biomass, equal to June but down from the peak month of July with 7.8 percent of the country's total electricity generation. In January, only 1.2 percent of the energy generated in Brazil came from biomass.

Unica said that Brazil's biomass generation during the first eight months of the year already exceeded the total coal-based power generation during all of 2017.

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Biolectricity in Brazil, unlike hydropower production, is not considered "intermittent" , because it is reliable, but it has seasonal effects. Biomass-based power generation has a "strategic" place in the country as it peaks precisely during the "dry and critic" period when hydropower declines. The Southern Hemisphere summer occurs between June and September.

Brazil also uses sugar cane to power the country's mostly dual-fuel vehicle fleet, which can run on either pure sugar-cane ethanol or on a mix of ethanol with gasoline, on any proportion.

The International Energy Organization considers Brazil's energy sector one of the least carbon-intensive in the world with 45 percent of primary energy demands met by renewable energy.

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The Brazilian policy of promoting sugar-based ethanol as fuel started during the oil shock of the 1970s as a government attempt to reduce vulnerability. In the mid-1970s the country imported by far most of the oil it consumed. It has since that time become a significant crude oil and natural gas producer.

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