By Camila Boehm
Image Attribute: Brazil's largest thermoelectric plant in Brazil powered by renewable fuel was unveiled on Friday (Sept. 16) in Caieiras, Greater São Paulo.Termoverde Caieiras/Divulgação
Brazil's largest thermoelectric plant powered by renewable fuel was unveiled on Friday (Sept. 16) in Caieiras, Greater São Paulo. With 29.5 megawatt (MW) rated capacity, Termoverde Caieiras can generate electricity from methane gas from decomposing landfill waste.
Methane gas is also known as “biogas” when obtained from the decomposition of organic matter such as agricultural waste, wood, sugarcane bagasse, manure, fruit peels, and animal and plant residues. Considering possible losses, the average power generation capacity of the new plant is expected to reach 26 MW per hour, enough to power a city with a 300,000 population.
Landfills generate a large amount of methane, one of the greenhouse gases. Prior to its use for power generation, the gas was burned in a system that transformed it into carbon dioxide, which has a 20-time smaller global warming potential than that of methane. Now, with the new plant, the methane will be transformed into electricity.
According to Termoverde director Carlos Bezerra, federal and state government incentives have made the project possible. “You create carbon credits by burning [methane] while also replacing fossile energy sources with renewable ones,” he said. Professor Suani Coelho, from the University of São Paulo (USP) Bioenergy Research Group, says although 30 megawatts might look insignificant when you consider that the Itaipu dam can generate 11,000 MW, “it's precisely this new energy standard, in global terms, the so-called decentralized generation, [that enables] several smaller generation units, which makes logistics much simpler,” she said.
Moreover, according to Suani, decentralized energy generation from landfills or power plants mitigates outage risks because it is closer to consumers “without no need for transmission lines.” “If we could send all the waste produced in São Paulo to landfills to be used for energy conversion, we could have up to 500 MW being generated in the state of São Paulo,” the teacher said. That would be almost 17 times Termoverde's generating capacity.
Carlos Bocuhy, CEO of the Brazilian Environmental Protection Institute, sees the transformation of methane into electricity as a stopgap measure to address a larger problem—solid waste disposal. According to him, implementing the principles of the National Solid Waste Policy would improve the supply chain, reducing the large amount of waste we produce today by making it recyclable at the end of the production chain.
Translated by Mayra Borges | Edited by: Graça Adjuto / Augusto Queiroz
(c) 2016 Empresa Brasil de Comunicação S/A - EBC | Creative Commons Atribuição 3.0 Brasil