Brazil bank approves financing for biogas unit
In the first phase, the plant will produce up to 11.4 million Nm³/year of biogas and up to 32,000 MWh/year of electricity.
The project will allow the distribution of biomethane in a region not yet served by a natural gas network. Biogas will also be used to replace diesel in part of the truck fleet of UISA, one of the venture's partners, and the electricity will supply the unit's own demand, and may also be exported.
The undertaking will also contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. According to a tool prepared by the BNDES in partnership with the Getúlio Vargas Foundation, the total volume of carbon captured will be 9.1 million tons, which is equivalent to planting 63 million trees. The financing was approved under the BNDES Fundo Clima program and corresponds to 33% of the total investment planned for the project — R$ 243.5 million (€43.2m).
According to Bruno Aranha, interim president of the BNDES, the Bank has sought to promote the diversification of renewable sources in Brazil's electricity and fuel matrix. “In this sense, biogas plays a doubly important role, as in addition to adding electricity generation, it also allows the replacement of fossil diesel with biomethane, contributing to reducing carbon emissions and imports from the fuel sector”, he explained.
For Alessandro Gardemann, CEO of Geo Biogás & Tech, a partner in the venture, “the UISA Geo Biogás project is in line with the purpose of transforming organic, solid and liquid waste from the agroindustry, such as vinasse and filter cake, into a renewable source of matter. Raw material for the production of biogas, biofertilisers, biofuels and electric power generation on a scale, capable of moving the hands of our energy system”.
Gardemann also pointed out that “biogas is a firm, dispatchable and scalable source alternative to decarbonise sectors such as heavy transport, industry and consumers of LPG and fuel oil”.
The unit is being built next to the sugar and alcohol plant of Usinas Itamarati S.A. (UISA), which will allocate its industrial waste for the production process of the new plant. The production of biogas, according to the project, can be carried out independently of the sugarcane harvest and off-season. This is because the technology used will be anaerobic biodigestion, capable of processing waste that can be stored without loss of organic matter, which will allow the plant to constantly supply gas throughout the year.
In addition to biomethane and electricity, the unit will also be able to produce solid and liquid biofertilisers, products that will be fully destined to UISA — in return for the supply of industrial waste — for use in sugarcane plantations.
During the construction of the unit, 300 direct and indirect jobs will be created. With the entry into operation, scheduled for December 2024, the venture will be responsible for creating 80 new jobs.
Created in 2019, UISA Geo Biogás S/A is a joint venture between Usinas Itamarati S.A. (UISA), which has a 49% stake in the business, and Geo Investimentos e Participações S/A (also called Geo Biogás & Tech), which holds a 51% stake.
UISA, one of the largest biorefineries in Brazil, is a pioneer in the model of combining industrial plants to transform renewable raw materials and their waste into biofuels, clean energy, food, organic fertilisers and inputs for human and animal nutrition. Located in Mato Grosso, a region with one of the greatest biodiversity in the world, UISA's guideline is to maximise sustainability and reduce carbon emissions from the processing of biomass.
Geo Biogás & Tech was founded in 2008 with the aim of implementing and disseminating biodigestion technology in the generation of biogas, which allows integrating the entire national production chain and also helping to decarbonise the environment.
Based on the German concept of biogas generation combined with the potential of the Brazilian agroindustry, the company adapted the technology to the region, having implemented the first biogas plant in the sugar-energy segment in the country, in addition to several other projects already implemented or under construction.