Brazil Gets World’s First Grass-Powered Electrical Plant

Brazil's elephant grass Brazil is going to have, starting next year, the first grass-powered thermoelectric mill in the world. The agreement for investment of US$ 43 million in the project for construction of the mill, which will be installed in the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia, was closed last week.

The contract was signed in Piracicaba, in the interior of the southeastern Brazilian state of São Paulo, during the Symposium and Technology Exhibition on the Sugar and Alcohol Industry (Simtec), the largest Brazilian ethanol fair.

The technology for São Desidério Mill, in Bahia, will be supplied by Dedini, one of the main producers of industrial equipment for the sugar and alcohol sector, which has Sykué Bioenergya as a client.

Ana Maria Diniz, a Sykué Bioenergya representative, stated that the group's objective is later to "expand the first mill's capacity by ten times, from 30 megawatts to 300 megawatts," through installation of new units.

The raw material, elephant grass, "was chosen due to its high capacity of receiving solar energy and transforming it into cellulose, in a totally clean production process, which is renewable and economically viable," stated Diniz.

The project also permits the issue of 1 million tons a year in carbon credits, which may be sold on the foreign market, generating additional profits apart from those from sale of electricity on the open market. The unit should start operating in December 2008, according to the promoters.

To the project designer, Paulo Puterman, biomass "may be an efficient route for the announced crisis that Brazil lives in production and distribution."

The main source of biomass in Brazil is currently sugarcane residue. The capacity for generation through this raw material is 45 kilowatts per ton, but it may triple in coming years, thanks to the better use of residues, including the processing of the cane bark and leaves, for the production of cellulose alcohol.



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