Brazil to overtake US as world's leader for biopower

Brazil is expected to overtake the US as the world's leading biopower producing nation by 2018, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData.

Production capacity in Brazil will rise from 11.51GW in 2013 to 17.10GW in 2018.

According to GlobalData's report, that the US had the world's largest biopower installed capacity in 2013, with 15.43GW, but this will only rise to 16.49GW by 2018. The country will witness slow growth due to its large existing capacity, which has saturated the market.

Harshavardhan Reddy Nagatham, GlobalData's alternative energy analyst, comments: 'A major share of the US's biopower capacity was installed in the 1980s and 1990s, meaning the country already had 12.82GW by 2006, while Brazil only had 3.59GW by that time.

'The nascent Brazilian market is being driven by the government, which has made it necessary for local utility service providers to obtain at least 2GW of installed biomass capacity through auctions annually, for 10 years from 2007.'

While feedstock supply interruptions are a possibility due to the rising levels of deforestation in some regions, the growing number of sugarcane plantations is expected to compensate for this.

Nagatham explains: 'The abundance of sugarcane in Brazil makes the installation of biomass technology a very viable option for power generation. Biomass projects will also generate electricity from both sugarcane waste and non-food energy crops, such as eucalyptus and pine trees.'

Renewable power from biomass in Brazil, however, does face competition from other sectors, such as hydropower, natural gas and wind.

'The biggest challenge to bioenergy will be Brazilian utility companies' inclination towards wind power and the large drop in wind energy capital expenditure,' says Nagatham. 'Furthermore, the Brazilian Development Bank, which provides low-interest loans for renewable projects, does not give biomass ventures free access to finance, and instead shows preference towards wind power.'

GlobalData forecasts Brazil will have an installed capacity of 25.22GW biopower by 2025.

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