Biomass in Brazil

Pros and cons of biomass in Brazil. 

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  • Created on: 05-04-13 10:18
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Biomass- Biomass is any non-fossil organic matter of animal or plant origin, which can be used to produce heat, either for industrial thermal demand, to generate electricity and/or to
be transformed into other forms of energy, including solid (charcoal, briquettes), liquid (ethanol, biodiesel), and gaseous (biogas from waste).
How it is used
Electric generation: Biomass is used to feed a boiler which then provides steam to a turbine which is connected to a generator. Feedstocks are mainly forest wood residues, and
urban/industrial waste wood.
Biofuels: This is any kind of biomass that is converted into liquid fuel, primarily for transportation. Most common is ethanol in Brazil. It can be produced from food crops -> sugar
cane in Brazil. It is burned before harvesting occurs during the entire harvest season (May to November in the South and East regions, and September to February in the Northeast). At
the end of 1992, law permitting the sugar mills and/or distilleries to sell the excess electrical energy they produced back to the State was passed. This electricity comes from burning
the sugar cane trash and bagasse (sugar cane fibre stalk after crushing). Only five sugar mills in Sao Paulo State take advantage of the law. In terms of energy consumption, the sugar
mills and the alcohol distilleries in Brazil are sustainable because they burn the bagasse in boilers to produce steam. The new proposal is to use the excess bagasse not used for
their own consumption, plus the sugar cane trash, to produce electric energy to be utilized in the commercial State or private electric system. This consumption will be a great
advantage for the State of Sao Paulo (the most industrialized state of Brazil) because it now has a deficit of electric energy, and has to buy electrical energy from other States.
Biomass in Brazil
Biomass had a 31% share in the Brazilian energy matrix in 2010, with 17.7% sugar cane products, 9.5% wood and 3.8% other residues. Studies undertaken by the Ministry of Mines and
Energy show that by 2020 biomass will have more than 35% participation in the energy matrix.
Can't grow in rainforest areas cause of the wetness??
Aims to double ethanol production by 2020, to try and lift developing world out of poverty.
The harvest period coincides with the dry season and low water in the main river basins which during this time, the dams would be inefficient.
Some use leftover wood waste from wood cutting factories.
Ethanol substitutes for gasoline, which is less environmentally friendly and more expensive.
Ethanol has allowed Brazil to cut emissions and fuel imports.
Exports of Brazil increased by 70% in 2007.
By using the leftover bagasse, energy can be created for the biomass plant to run off.
Biomass is often advertised as carbon neutral or nearly carbon neutral, but this can be misleading. It is true that the carbon released upon burning it was only recently pulled out of the
atmosphere, so it can be viewed as returning what was already there before the plant came up. Additional carbon emitted in cultivating, harvesting and transporting the fuel, can be
considerable. The less carbon emitted in these stages of production, the closer the resulting fuel is to carbon neutrality. There is also the question of fertilizers, pesticides and
herbicides, if used, and the energy and resources used and carbon emitted in producing them.
It takes a large volume of raw materials to produce very little power.
Burning the cane brings several environmental problems like increased air pollution and can also have health problems on people, like respiratory problems. It kills microorganisms in
the topsoil, burns the trash that could be used to improve soil conditions (it's a good source of organic matter and nitrogen). They lead to pollution, and some aren't controlled very
well, leading to destruction of ecosystems. By 2014, it will be banned and the plantations will start to use mechanical methods for harvesting. This means many workers will lose their
jobs, and due to high unemployment rates, it will be difficult for some to find new jobs, which could lead them to go to illegal mining etc.


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