The Future of Bioenergy and Biomass Brazil

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Potential Biomass Brazil Renewable Energy – Biomass- Bioenergy – Bio Wood Briquette – Bio Wood Pellets.

Energy consumption patterns have strongly changed during the last decades. The increase on industrial production of goods, the high mobility of the population and the dependency on fossil fuels for energy generation, particularly, coal, mineral oil and natural gas are considered the main factors causing environmental depletion. As reported by the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety energy supply is globally based primarily on the finite fossil energy carriers of coal, mineral oil, and natural gas. The combustion of fossil fuels is the largest contributor to the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere. As a result, Earth’s average temperature has been increasing and climatic phenomena like extreme drought and flood are more often (IPCC) The existing power supply systems contribute to increase CO2 emissions and costs for energy generation and distribution to consumers. The need of reducing GHG emissions and the urgency in developing alternative technologies for energy generation obliges industrialized and developing countries to encounter solutions using regenerative energy sources. The diffusion of knowledge and technology is an important step for changing behavior and implementing new patterns of energy supply. The imminent collapse of non-renewable sources and new environmental legislations could result in a wider use of biomass. Research shows that biomass originated from crop and agricultural residues can be used, mainly in processes of gasification and thermoelectric generation of simple or combined cycles with cogeneration, becoming an important local energy source. The use of biomass is a promising alternative for a climate friendly heating and power generation. Close to 80 percent of the worlds energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies a new report shows.

The findings, from over 120 researchers working with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), also indicate that the rising penetration of renewable energies could lead to cumulative greenhouse gas savings equivalent to 220 to 560 Gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (GtC02eq) between 2010 and 2050. The upper end of the scenarios assessed, representing a cut of around a third in greenhouse gas emissions from business-as-usual projections, could assist in keeping concentrations of greenhouse gases at 450 parts per million. This could contribute towards a goal of holding the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius – an aim recognized in the United Nations Climate. The most optimistic of the four, in-depth scenarios projects renewable energy accounting for as much as 77 percent of the worlds energy demand by 2050, amounting to about 314 of 407 Exajoules per year. As a comparison, 314 Exajoules is over three times the annual energy supply in the United States in 2005 which is also a similar level of supply on the Continent of Europe according to various government and independent sources. 77 percent is up from just under 13 percent of the total primary energy supply of around 490 Exajoules in 2008. Each of the scenarios is underpinned by a range of variables such as changes in energy efficiency, population growth and per capita consumption. These lead to varying levels of total primary energy supply in 2050, with the lowest of the four scenarios seeing renewable energy accounting for a share of 15 percent in 2050, based on a total primary energy supply of 749 Exajoules.

The Renewables Intensive Global Energy Scenario (RIGES) proposes a significant role for biomass in the next century. They propose that by 2050 renewable sources of energy could account for three-fifths of the world’s electricity market and two-fifths of the market for fuels used directly, and that global CO 2 emissions would be reduced to 75 per cent of their 2005 levels and such benefits could be achieved at no additional cost. Within this scenario, biomass should provide about 38 per cent of the direct fuel and 17 per cent of the electricity use in the world. Detailed regional analysis shows how Latin America and Africa might become large exporters of biofuels. The Environmentally Compatible Energy Scenario (ECES) for 2020 assumes that past trends of technological and economic structural change will continue to prevail in the future and thereby serve, to some extent, economic and environmental objectives at the same time. Primary energy supply is predicted to be 12.7 Gtoe (533 EJ) of which biomass energy would contribute 11.6 per cent (62 EJ) derived from wastes and residues, energy plantations and crops, and forests—this excludes traditional uses of noncommercial biomass energy for fuel wood in developing countries. Fossil-Free Energy Scenario (FFES) was developed as part of Greenpeace International’s study of global energy warming. Greenpeace forecast that in 2030 biomass could supply 24 per cent (=91 EJ) of primary energy (total=384 EJ) compared to their low estimate of only 7 per cent today (” EJ). The biomass supply could be derived equally from developing and industrialised countries. The IEA study ‘World Energy Lookout’ addressed for the first time the current role of biomass energy and its future potential. It is estimated that by 2020 biomass will be contributing 60 EJ (compared to their estimate of 44 EJ today =11 per cent of total energy) thereby providing 9.5 per cent of total energy supply. The period 1995–2020 will show a 1.2 per cent annual growth rate in biomass provision compared to a 2.0 per cent rate for ‘conventional’ energy.

European countries gear up to meet renewable energy goals of 20 percent by 2020, demand for biomass, woodchips and wood pellets is expected to rise. By 2020, this number could be somewhere between 115 and 335 million tons per year, according to an article in Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining. Both of these estimates eclipse the 11 million tons of pellets consumed by the EU in 2010. The greatest demand for imported biomass will be from Europe, Korea and Japan. In Europe the “RE 20/20/20″ energy policy carries legally binding renewable energy targets for each member country for 2020. Plans submitted by member countries in 2010 to achieve targets will increase biomass use for production of electricity, heat, and transportation fuels by ~400 MT (million tonnes), mostly from woody material. Pellet consumption of 11 MT in 2010 is projected to reach 16-18 MT by 2013-15 and 50-80 MT by 2020. The biomass shortfall is estimated at 60 MT. Key importing countries will be UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Spain. According to the European Biomass Association, it is expected that Europe will reach a consumption of 80 million tons pellets per year by 2020. The UK will become a very major importer of biomass: 206 million GJ/y equates to about 12 million t/y of pellets or 20 million t/y of green woodchips, equivalent to the wood requirements of at least four world scale pulp mills. According to [Werling, 2010] an increase of the pellets is to expect. Wood pellets have many advantages and it seems that the world wide consumption will increase drastically the next couple of years. Green Building Magazine denotes wood pellets as a significant fuel of the 21th century as many considers the increased use of wood pellets an important way to achieve the EU 2020 goals of sustainable energy. According to [Hansen, 2010] the wood pellet market will double within short time. The German wood pellet demand will e.g. increase with 70.8 mill tonnes until 2020. [Junginger et. al, 2009] estimates that the wood pellet exchange in Europe will vary between 18-25% per year and the demand increase between 130-170 million tonnes per year until 2020. [Werling, 2010] denotes that new European electricity producing biomass units with a capacity up till 5400 MW are under establishment until year 2014. These units alone will have a gross consumption on 280 PJ or 19 million tonnes biomass a year. It is not only in Europe the market develops. New market areas are starting to develop and large potential users like Brazil, Argentina, Chile and New Zealand are assumed to be a part of the global wood pellet flow within short term. Asia (China, Australia, India, Japan and South Korean) is booming economically and according to [Peksa-Blanchard et al., 2007] the Asian countries is estimated to be the biggest global energy consumers by 2030, at the same time the Asian region has the largest biomass resources in the world. It is fair to assume that Asia will become an important actor of the biomass market and therefore the wood pellet market.

USA president Obama and his demonstration have expressed interest in consuming biomass including wood pellets c.f. [Mackinnon, 2010]. If the potential consumers will appear, it is reasonable to assume that the concentrated flow of wood pellets exclusively into Europe can be disturbed. The increase in European consumption and the many arising production markets indicates that the wood pellet market will continue to boom. Moreover the environment issues and GHG emission restriction becomes visible in the media as never before and a political pressure can be enough to convert several heat and power plants using biomass instead of fossil fuel. The large role Brazil is expected to play in future energy supply can be explained by several considerations. First, biomass fuels can substitute more or less directly for fossil fuels in the existing energy supply infrastructure. Secondly, the potential resource is large since land is available which is not needed for food production and as agricultural food yields continue to rise in excess of the rate of population growth. Thirdly, in developing countries demand for energy is rising rapidly, due to population increase, urbanisation and rising living standards. While some fuel switching occurs in this process, the total demand for biomass also tends to increase.

Brazil has tradition and a significant potential on biomass production. The historical importance of biomass energy in Brazil is due to a set of factors, including (i) the size of the country and the availability of land, (ii) the adequacy of its weather, (iii) the availability and the low cost of the working force and (iv) the domain of biomass-production and biomass conversion technologies in the agricultural and in the industrial sectors. The accomplishment of these conditions defines a potential biomass producer country in a bioenergy trade scenario. In Brazil, the agroindustry of corn (13767400 ha), sugarcane (7080920 ha), rice (2890930 ha), cassava (1894460 ha), wheat (1853220 ha), citrus (930591 ha), coconut (283205 ha), and grass (140000 ha) collectively occupies an area of 28840726 ha and generates residues (agricultural residues, cereals, fruit and vegetable extraction) and approximately 157,992,556 cubic meters of forestry sector of residue per year. Other agricultural by-products of importance in Brazil, such as corn straw, wheat straw, rice straw and rice hulls, grass and forestry materials and residues from citrus, coconut and cassava processing, also deserve attention as local feedstock for the development of new and profitable activities. As each type of feedstock demands the development of tailor-made technology, the diversity of the aforementioned raw materials could allow for new solutions for the production of chemicals, fuels and energy in accordance with the local availability of these materials. Forestry leftovers, saw dust, bagasse sugarcane, rice and coffee husks, coconut shells and other residues can be compacted into pellets or briquettes. The compaction of residues enhances storage and transport efficiencies of bulky biomass.


Production Brazil 2010

(mil tons)

Estimated Residual

( mil tons)

Energy Waste (mil Tep) FAO –0,35 Tep-Ton

Agricultural Waste – Cereals (incl. Cane Sugar)




Waste – Extraction Plant




Waste – Fruits




Forestry residues (with firewood and m³ x ton)




Forestry wastes correspond to the parts of trees not profited for cellulose production, such as tips and branches, which contribute to soil fertility upon degradation. These wastes are by nature heterogeneous in size, composition and structure. According to the Brazilian Forestry Inventory, small pieces of wood, including tree bark, are the major waste obtained from the forestry industry, corresponding to 71% of the total waste. Sawdust is second, accounting for 22%. Furthermore, major wood loss occurs during the wood processing in the furniture sector. In some cases, up to 80% of a tree is lost between the tree being cut in the forest and the furniture manufacturing. In Brazil, short-rotation woody crops such as round wood (Eucalyptus and Pinus) yielded 39 million tons (dry matter).

Their potential production is estimated at 61.4 million tons (dry matter) yr-1 on a planted area of 6.3 million ha with an average mean annual increment from 13 to 14.7 t (dry matter) ha-1 yr-1. Furthermore, 30.9 million tons (dry matter) of woody biomass from native forests, of which 8.1 million tons (dry matter) were of saw logs, 20.3 million tons (dry matter) of firewood and 2.5 million tons (dry matter) of wood for charcoal Harvest costs for residues, which constitute about percent of total costs, could disappear entirely as new log harvesting methods will pile or bundle the residues at the same time as the logs are harvested, according to industry experts. Forwarding costs (20 percent of total) could fall by some 20 percent, mainly through improved bundling of residues and the use of specialized forwarders that can carry more. Today’s forwarders are made for logs, not residues. Chipping costs could fall by around 50 percent by transporting unprocessed or bundled residues to the point of end use for efficient processing, rather than chipping them at the road side as is currently the case. Lower costs are likely to be countered by higher stumpage prices and hauling costs, however. The stumpage price is the money paid to land owners for extracting forest residues. Stumpage prices could double given historic price developments in Brazil and projected increases in demand. Hauling costs could increase by up to 50 percent due to the need to source from more remote areas as demand increases. There are no estimates of potential production. Current production of forest residues in Brazil is estimated to be 38.6 million tons (dry matter) yr-1, of which 59% is field residue and 41% is industrial waste. Plantations and native forests contribute 51 and 49%, respectively. Potential production is 52.8 million tons (dry matter) yr-1, of which 63 and 37% is from plantations and native forests, respectively.

In Brazil, currently 438 sugar-ethanol plants process approximately 501,231.0 million tons of sugar cane (2010-11) per year, and approximately equal amounts of its sucrose-rich juice are used for sugar and ethanol production. Brazil produced 290.713,980 million tons of sugar cane residues, 140 million tons of sugar cane bagasse and 150 million tons of sugar cane straw. The energy content of these wastes supports its use for bioethanol production, as one third of the sugarcane plant total energy is present in bagasse and one-third is present in straw (tops and leaves).

Biomass is the most important renewable energy source in the world. By the year 2050, it is estimated that 90% of the world population will live in developing countries. Brazil has the potential to provide a cost-effective and sustainable supply of energy (biomass, woodchips, wood biobriquette and wood bioepllets), while at the same time aiding countries in meeting their greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Source: Brazilian Association Industry Biomass