Pictures of Lighthouses

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Electricity from sugarcane bagasse in Brazil

Electricity from sugarcane bagasse in Brazil

Sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum) plantation ready for harvest, Ituverava, São Paulo State. Brazil.
Sugar/Ethanol Plant located in Piracicaba, São Paulo State. This plant produces the electricity it needs from bagasse residuals from sugarcane left over by the milling process, and it sells the surplus electricity to the public grid.
Sucrose accounts for little more than 30% of the chemical energy stored in the mature plant; 35% is in the leaves and stem tips, which are left in the fields during harvest, and 35% are in the fibrous material (bagasse) left over from pressing.
The production process of sugar and ethanol in Brazil takes full advantage of the energy stored in sugarcane. Part of the bagasse is currently burned at the mill to provide heat for distillation and electricity to run the machinery. This allows ethanol plants to be energetically self-sufficient and even sell surplus electricity to utilities; current production is 600 MW for self-use and 100 MW for sale. This secondary activity is expected to boom now that utilities have been induced to pay "fair price "(about US$10/GJ or US$0.036/kWh) for 10 year contracts. This is approximately half of what the World Bank considers the reference price for investing in similar projects (see below). The energy is especially valuable to utilities because it is produced mainly in the dry season when hydroelectric dams are running low. Estimates of potential power generation from bagasse range from 1,000 to 9,000 MW, depending on technology. Higher estimates assume gasification of biomass, replacement of current low-pressure steam boilers and turbines by high-pressure ones, and use of harvest trash currently left behind in the fields. For comparison, Brazil's Angra I nuclear plant generates 657 MW.

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