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Bioelectricity generated with sugarcane bagasse and straw grows 14% in 2023

Sugarcane bagasse and straw were the main fuels in the generation of bioelectricity for the country's grid in 2023, representing a supply of 20,973 GWh. Growth was 14% compared to the previous year. The information is the result of the bulletin presented by the Sugarcane and Bioenergy Industry Union (UNICA), based on data from the Electric Energy Trading Chamber (CCEE) and the National Electric Energy Agency (Aneel).

According to Zilmar Souza, bioelectricity manager at UNICA, this advance in sugar-energy generation was very welcome for the Brazilian electrical system. According to the executive, these almost 21 thousand GWh were equivalent to meeting 4% of national electricity consumption in 2023 or 10.8 million residential consumer units.

“In addition, they would be equivalent to 25% of the electricity generation by the Itaipu Plant and avoid CO2 emissions estimated at 4.3 million tons, a mark that would only be achieved with the cultivation of 30 million native trees along 20 years”, says Souza.

Bagasse and straw represent almost 75% of the bioelectricity for the grid in the country

In 2023, the production of bioelectricity for the grid, with bagasse and straw from sugar cane, represented almost 75% of all bioelectricity generation for the grid in the country, which was 28,137 GWh.

Another important point is that this generation is characterized as non-intermittent and predominates in the dry period of the electrical system, mainly following the sugarcane harvest period in the Center-South region of the country. In this way, this generation also ends up coinciding with the dry and critical period in the Brazilian electricity sector, which runs from May to November each year.

According to the Association, the 20,973 GWh offered to the grid by the sugar-energy sector last year represented savings of 14 percentage points of the total energy capacity stored in the form of water in the reservoirs of the hydroelectric plants in the Southeast/Mid-West submarket, due to the greater predictability and availability of bioelectricity precisely in the dry and critical period for the Brazilian electricity sector.

According to Zilmar, as soon as the harvest begins, the generation of bioelectricity begins in a continuous supply to the system until the end of grinding, delivering energy from a renewable source, firm (non-intermittent), which avoids emissions and is close to consumer centers, minimizing transmission losses, helping the system operator to guarantee energy supply to the country.

2024 will be a year of increased installed capacity well above the average for biomass

The UNICA bulletin ends by showing that, for the year 2024, Aneel's forecast is that the biomass source in general will reach an increase of 1,155 MW, the highest value since 2013, with the installation of 24 generating plants, one of which has already came into operation in February (31 MW) and the remaining 23 plants have high feasibility of entering into commercial operation this year.

In 2024, the majority of the 23 plants that will enter commercial operation this year, totaling 1,124 MW, will have agro-industrial waste as their main fuels (categorized as sugarcane bagasse/straw, biogas, elephant grass and rice husk).

There will be 16 plants using agro-industrial waste (six in São Paulo, four in Goiás, two in Minas Gerais and one unit in the States of Bahia, Pernambuco, Mato Grosso do Sul and Roraima). The other generating units will have forestry biomass (five plants), liquid biofuels (one plant) and urban solid waste – MSW (one plant) as their main fuel.

In 2024, biomass is expected to represent 11% of the increase in installed capacity in the country. In volume, the record for annual increase in biomass was in 2010 (1,750 MW), followed by 2013 (1,431 MW) and 2009, which ends up tying with 2024 (1,155 MW).

Evaluating from 2007 to 2025, the sugar-energy sector should reach the mark of 14,100 new MW installed in the Brazilian electricity sector. “This is equivalent to an Itaipu Plant installed during this period by the sugarcane industry. Itaipu has 14 thousand MW. It is a significant milestone for the sugar-energy sector and for this non-intermittent and renewable energy, which is so important for the country's energy security”, concludes Souza



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