Industrial Uses of Biomass Energy: The Example of Brazil

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Resource adequacy is generally not an issue, although some parts of the world hold more promise for certain renewable technologies than others. The rate at which sunlight is absorbed by the Earth is roughly 10, times greater than the rate at which human beings use commercial energy of all kinds. Even when practical limitations are factored in, the remaining renewable resource base remains enormous. A recent analysis commissioned for this report suggests that if one considers only those onshore areas that are already economic for commercially available wind turbines i.

The challenges for renewable energy technologies, therefore, are primarily technological and economic: how to capture the energy from dispersed resources that typically have low power-density compared to fossil or nuclear fuels and deliver that energy where it is needed and when it is needed at reasonable cost. Significant cost reductions have been achieved in solar and wind technologies over the past decade, but as a means of generating electricity these options generally remain more expensive per kilowatt-hour of output than their conventional competitors.

Other deployment hurdles derive from the nature of the resource itself. Wind and solar energy, because they are intermittent and not available on demand, present challenges in terms of being integrated into electricity supply grids, which must respond instantaneously to changing loads. Intermittency imposes costs on electric power systems—costs that may be substantial at foreseeable levels of wind and solar deployment.

To address this issue, large-scale improvements to transmission infrastructure, the addition of more responsive conventional generation and possibly energy storage technologies may enable wind power to supply more than 30 percent of electric generation while keeping intermittency costs below a few cents per kilowatt-hour DeCarolis and Keith, ; The development of cost-effective storage options, in particular, should be a priority for future research and development since success in this area could significantly affect the cost of intermittent renewable resources and the magnitude of their contribution to long-term energy supplies.

Potential storage options include added thermal capacity, pumped hydro or compressed air energy storage, and eventually hydrogen. Large hydropower has the advantage that it is not intermittent and is already quite cost-competitive, but the potential for new development in many areas is likely to be constrained by concerns about adverse impacts on natural habitats and human settlements. With installed capacity increasing by an average of 30 percent per year since , wind power is among the fastest growing renewable energy technologies and accounts for the largest share of renewable electricity-generating capacity added in recent years.

In alone, Leading countries for wind development are. Germany This impressive progress is due in large part to continuing cost reductions capital costs for wind energy declined more than 50 percent between and and strong government incentives in some countries Juninger and Faaij, Over time, wind turbines have become larger and taller: the average capacity of individual turbines installed in was 1.

A simple extrapolation of current trends—that is without taking into account new policy interventions—suggests that wind capacity will continue to grow robustly. The IEA World Energy Outlook reference case forecast for includes gigawatts of global wind capacity and terawatt-hours of total wind generation, a more than five-fold increase of the current capacity base.

Based on available surveys, North America and a large part of the Western European coast have the most abundant resources, whereas the resource base in Asia is considerably smaller, with the possible exception of certain areas such as Inner Mongolia where the wind potential may be in excess of gigawatts. Further study is needed to assess the resource base in Africa where it appears that wind resources may be concentrated in a few areas on the northern and southern edges of the continent. Intermittency is a significant issue for wind energy: wind speeds are highly variable, and power output drops off rapidly as wind speed declines.

As a result, turbines produce, on average, much less electricity than their maximum rated capacity. Typical capacity factors the ratio of actual output to rated capacity range from 25 percent on-shore to 40 percent off-shore depending on both wind and turbine characteristics. Longer-term, as wind penetration expands to significantly higher levels e. In addition, new investments in transmission capacity and improvements in transmission technology that would allow for cost-effective transport of electricity over long distances using, for example, high-voltage direct current lines would allow for grid integration over much larger geographic areas and could play a crucial role in overcoming intermittency concerns while expanding access to remote but otherwise promising resource areas.

Meanwhile, as has already been noted, options for low-cost energy storage on the scale and over the timeframes required i. Potential storage options for wind and other intermittent renewable resources include pumped hydroelectric storage, compressed air energy storage, and hydrogen. Pumped hydro requires two reservoirs of water at different heights, whereas compressed air storage—in the two commercial projects of this type that exist to date—has entailed using a large underground cavern.

Compressed air storage may also be feasible in more ubiquitous underground aquifers. While pumped hydro may be preferable when a source of elevated water storage is nearby, compressed air storage can be sited where there is suitable underground geology. It is worth noting, however, that compressed air must be heated in some way before it can be directly used in an air turbine; hence the usual assumption is that compressed air storage would be integrated with a gas turbine.

Longer term, hydrogen may provide another promising storage option for intermittent renewables. When wind or solar energy is available, it could be used to produce hydrogen, which could in turn be used for a variety of applications—including for electricity production, as a primary fuel source, or in fuel cells—once appropriate distribution infrastructure and end-use technologies are developed.

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Solar PV technologies use semiconductors to convert light photons directly into electricity. As with wind, installed capacity has increased rapidly over the last decade; grid-connected solar PV capacity grew on average more than 60 percent per year from to This growth started from a small base however. Total installed capacity was just 2. Solar PV has long had an important niche, however, in off-grid applications providing power in areas without access to an existing electricity grid.

Until recently, solar PV has been concentrated in Japan, Germany, and the United States where it is supported by various incentives and policies. Solar PV is also expected to expand rapidly in China where installed capacity—currently at approximately megawatts—is set to increase to megawatts in NDRC, Increasingly, solar PV is being used in integrated applications where PV modules are incorporated in the roofs and facades of buildings and connected to the grid so that they can flow excess power back into the system.

As with wind, the potential resource base is large and widely distributed around the world, though prospects are obviously better in some countries than in others. To the extent that PV modules can be integrated into the built environment, some of the siting challenges associated with other generating technologies are avoided.

The main barrier to this technology in grid-connected applications remains high cost. Solar PV costs vary depending on the quality of the solar resource and module used, but they are typically higher than the cost for conventional power generation and substantially higher than current costs for wind generation. Another significant issue, as with other renewable options like wind, is intermittency. Different economic and reliability parameters apply in non-grid applications where solar photovoltaic is often less costly than the alternatives, especially where the alternatives would require substantial grid investments.

Achieving further reductions in the cost of solar power will likely require additional technology improvements and may eventually involve novel new technologies such as die-sensitized solar cells.

3.3 Non-biomass renewables

In the mid- to longer-term future, ambitious proposals have been put forward to construct megawatt-scale solar PV plants in desert areas and transmit the energy by high voltage transmission lines or hydrogen pipelines. Solar thermal technologies can be used to provide space conditioning both heating and cooling in buildings, to heat water, or to produce electricity and fuels. The most promising opportunities at present are in dispersed, small-scale applications, typically to provide hot water and space heating directly to households and businesses.

It can also be used as a direct source of light and ventilation by deploying simple devices that can concentrate and direct sunlight even deep inside a building and by exploiting pressure differences that are created between different parts of a building when the sun shines. In combination with highly efficient, endues energy systems, as much as 50—75 percent of the total energy needs of buildings as constructed under normal practice can typically be eliminated or satisfied using passive solar means.

Active solar thermal systems can supply heat for domestic hot water in commercial and residential buildings, as well as for crop drying, industrial processes, and desalination. The main collector technologies—generally considered mature but continue to improve—include flat panels and evacuated tubes. Today, active solar thermal technology is primarily used for water heating: worldwide, an estimated 40 million households about 2. Major markets for this technology are in China, Europe, Israel, Turkey, and Japan, with China alone accounting for 60 percent of installed capacity worldwide.

Costs for solar thermal hot water, space heating, and combined systems vary with system configuration and location. Depending on the size of panels and storage tanks, and on the building envelope, it has been estimated that 10—60 percent of combined household hot water and heating loads can be met using solar thermal energy, even at central and northern European locations.

At present, solar thermal energy is primarly used for water heating. Technologies also exist, however, to directly use solar thermal energy for cooling and dehumidification. Cost remains a significant impediment, though cost performance can sometimes be improved by combination systems that provide both summer cooling and winter heating. Simulations of a prototype indirect-direct evaporative cooler in California indicate savings in annual cooling energy use in excess of 90 percent. Savings would be less in a more humid climate, though they can be enhanced using solar-regenerated liquid desiccants.

Finally, systems that actively collect and store solar thermal energy can be designed to provide district heating and cooling to multiple buildings at once; such systems are already being demonstrated in Europe—the largest of them, in Denmark, involves 1, houses. A number of technologies also exist for concentrating solar thermal energy to supply industrial process heat and to generate electricity. Typically, parabolic troughs, towers, or solar-tracking dishes are used to concentrate sunlight to a high energy density; the concentrated thermal energy is then absorbed by some material surface and used to operate a conventional power cycle such as a Rankin engine or low-temperature steam turbine.

Concentrating solar thermal electricity technologies work best in areas of high direct solar radiation and offer advantages in terms of built-in thermal energy storage. Until recently, the market for these technologies has been stagnant with little new development since the early s when a megawatt facility was constructed in California using favorable tax credits.

The last few years have witnessed a resurgence of interest in solar-thermal electric power generation, however, with demonstration projects now underway or proposed in Israel, Spain, and the United States and in some developing countries.

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The technology is also attracting significant new investments of venture capital. Methods of producing hydrogen and other fuels e. Hydroelectricity remains the most developed renewable resource worldwide: it now accounts for most 85 percent of renewable electricity production and is one of the lowest-cost generating technologies available.

Worldwide, large hydropower capacity totaled some gigawatts in and accounted for approximately 16 percent of total electricity production, which translated to 2, terawatt-hours out of a total 17, terawatthours in IEA, As with other renewable resources, the theoretical potential of hydropower is enormous, on the order of 40, terawatt-hours per year World Atlas, Taking into account engineering and economic criteria, the estimated technical potential is smaller but still substantial at roughly 14, terawatt-hours per year or more than 4 times current production levels.

Economic potential, which takes into account societal and environmental constraints, is the most difficult to estimate since it is strongly affected by societal preferences that are inherently uncertain and difficult to predict. In Western Europe and the United States, approximately 65 percent and 76 percent, respectively, of technical hydroelectricity potential has been developed, a total that reflects societal and environmental constraints.

For many developing countries, the total technical potential, based on simplified engineering and economic criteria with few environmental considerations, has not been fully measured while economic potential remains even more uncertain. Current forecasts anticipate continued growth in hydropower production, especially in the developing world where large capacity additions are planned, mostly in non-OECD Asian countries.

Elsewhere, concerns about public acceptance including concerns about the risk of dam breaks ; environmental impacts including habitat loss as well as the potential for carbon dioxide and methane emissions from large dams, especially in tropical settings ; susceptibility to drought; resettlement impacts; and availability of sites are prompting a greater focus on small hydro resources.

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In , a report issued by the World Commission on Dams identified issues concerning future dam development for both energy and irrigation purposes and emphasized the need for a more participatory approach to future resource management decisions WDC, Today, worldwide installed small hydro capacity exceeds 60 gigawatts with most of that capacity more than 13 gigawatts in China. The demand for transport fuels in reaches approximately 7. Two trends can be observed when analyzing the scenarios.

First, fossil fuels become less important when climate targets become more stringent. Second, in SSP1 more efficient but also more expensive technologies are needed to fulfill demand, like freight transport on biobased hydrogen and passenger transport with electric vehicles. The demand for energy in the industry in is approximately 4. Biomass 1. The demand for petrochemicals PJ remains dominated by fossil sources in all scenarios.

However, in SSP1 the majority PJ, embodied energy of the ammonia is produced from syngas, while PJ of olefins is produced from ethanol and biobased naphtha. More details regarding final energy consumption can be found in Appendix V. The annual costs for the supply of energy see Fig. The costs of supply of energy encompass the costs for primary energy carriers and the costs of converting the primary energy into energy carriers for final energy consumption in the selected sectors.

Costs for the conversion of final energy to useful energy — for instance, the conversion of gasoline to kinetic energy in a car — are therefore excluded. More details can be found in Appendix I. In SSP1, the supply potential of biomass is greater than in the other scenarios, and hence imports of oil products are lower than in the other scenarios, as biofuels replace fossil transport fuels. The current shortage of naphtha and diesel production capacity in Brazil is assumed to persist, requiring imports to fulfil the demand.

The costs of importing oil products are therefore significant in SSP1, as shown in Fig. The production of biofuels outcompetes the import of fossil fuels in SSP1 to supply energy to the transport sector. More crude oil is therefore available in comparison to the other scenarios , which is exported. The production costs of power, fuels, and energy for the industry increase under more stringent emission targets.

The aim of this study was to explore the extent to which biomass could be used in the future energy and chemical system in Brazil. The results should not be interpreted as final outcomes with absolute values but rather as trends for the future energy system and how much biomass will be needed. The results are influenced by the methods selected and the assumptions regarding the input data. The total primary energy supply in , as found in this study, is comparable to other studies that assess the future energy mix in Brazil, e.

However, the level of detail that is given in this study provides us with details on the consumption of biomass per sector, as well as which technology is used. A clear example of this dynamic competition is observed in the use of bagasse. Research shows that, nowadays, only a small fraction of the total potential of bagasse is used for electricity production in sugarcane refineries, highlighting the potential for biobased electricity production. It is noteworthy that the supply potential of biomass plays an important role in the magnitude of the production of biobased energy and chemicals in all three scenarios.

Moreover, the transportation of biomass is only partially addressed. The price of biomass includes transportation to the processing plant. However, the differences between harvest location and location of demand can be large in Brazil, and it is therefore either economically or environmentally unfeasible to transport biomass over large distances.

In general, the upstream CO 2 emissions are relatively small in comparison to the direct emissions. CO 2 eq. Until recently, the Brazilian government tried hard to reduce deforestation. Most of the legal mechanisms meant to reduce deforestation are part of the Brazilian Forest Code. However, the latest revisions of the Forest Code are not yet fully implemented due to lobbying from, e.

Due to the considerable demand for bioenergy in some of the scenarios of this study, it will be worthwhile investigating this issue in future research. The impact of the assumptions related to investment costs, fuel prices and biomass supply potential, on the modeling results, are shown in the sensitivity analysis Appendix VI. The availability of biomass is the major parameter that influences the results: when biomass is limited available renewable energy will be delivered by alternative sources.

Fuel prices both biomass and fossil and investment costs have less impact on the results. This is because the effect of the carbon budget strict limit on carbon emissions is larger than the effect of price differences. The results show a large increase in intermittent renewables in the power sector. This may affect the stability of the grid in Brazil. Technological development of conversion technologies can influence modeling results as the costs of solar and wind energy showed large reductions in past years 77 but investments in advanced biomass technologies also slowed down 60 during those years.

These developments are assessed in the sensitivity analysis see Appendix VI for more detail , showing that cost reductions of intermittent power supply only slightly influences the modeling results for , as they are already present due to the restrictions in GHG emissions of the carbon budget.

When advanced biomass technologies are introduced less quickly, a switch in technologies is observed. Less efficient biomass conversion technologies e. More renewable electricity mainly produced from solar and wind energy is therefore required to meet energy demands see Appendix VI for more detail. Brinkman et al. The effect of growing demand for sugarcane is not only positive for the economic situation but also for the social situation. Walter et al. On the other hand, there are also social issues in the Brazilian agricultural business.

Working conditions in sugarcane plantations are described as bad due to the hard physical labor. However, the technology related to the capture and storage of CO 2 is still in the development stage. Energy efficiency measures are present in the transport sector only. For a fair comparison this should be expanded to the whole model. Especially in the residential sector, the inclusion of energy efficiency measures can ensure lower demand for primary energy.

The aim of this study was to explore the role that biomass can play in meeting the demand for energy and chemicals, and the mitigation of GHG emissions in Brazil up to The primary energy supply from biomass resources increases from 6 EJ to 11—14 EJ in the different scenarios. The major drivers for the growth of biomass are supply potential and climate policy. Biomass is mostly used in the transport sector.

Under more stringent mitigation strategies, a switch is observed from fossil fuels towards transportation using electricity private transportation and hydrogen freight transportation. Even without climate policy, 2G transport fuels become economically attractive in comparison to fossil fuels, which are hindered because of the large investments needed in oil refineries. This highlights the fact that a wide range of novel biomass technologies will be required to meet stringent emission targets, especially those with the option to capture CO 2.

The annual costs for the supply of energy are the highest in SSP2, showing that more stringent climate targets do not necessarily lead to higher costs. Upstream GHG emissions can have either a negative LUC emissions and large transport distance or a positive net increase of the carbon sink impact on the GHG performance of biomass produced for energy and chemicals. It can therefore serve as a platform to inform the debate on the sustainability of biomass resources in Brazil, especially by being transparent about the methods and data chosen.


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With interlinked models, the dynamic interaction between demand for biomass and indirect land use change can be quantified. Increasing the shares of intermittent renewables may affect grid stability in Brazil. His research focuses on system analysis and modeling of energy transitions. He specializes in the modeling of electricity demand and supply.

A chemical engineer, Alexandre is the author of numerous books and papers in scientific journals and has supervised more than doctoral thesis and master's dissertations. Roberto Schaeffer teaches and conducts research in the energy planning program of the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he currently holds a full professor position in energy economics.

Please note: The publisher is not responsible for the content or functionality of any supporting information supplied by the authors. Any queries other than missing content should be directed to the corresponding author for the article.

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Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article. Introduction Greenhouse gas GHG emissions will increase in the coming decades if no action is taken. Figure 1 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint. Extension of TIMBRA with a biobased module To explore the role that biomass can play in meeting the demand for energy and chemicals until in Brazil, the original TIMBRA model 36 has been updated with information on the biomass supply chain for energy and chemicals.

Figure 2 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint. Demand Demand for energy per sector is determined exogenously based on demand projections for Brazil. See Appendix II for the actual introduction years for the different scenarios. Progressive Slightly progressive Medium change Conservative Efficiency improvements chemicals over time b b Adapted from Tsiroupoulos et al. See Appendix II for the data. The methods used for the quantification of the supply potential are described in Appendix II , where also the details regarding costs are found.

Based on domestic production costs see Section 2. Import: SSP1: Rapid development towards a sustainable future Technological development follows a progressive trend. Results Primary energy and final energy consumption The use of biomass will continue to play an important role in the total primary energy supply TPES in the coming decades Fig. Figure 3 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint. Other sources exist of nuclear energy and imports of electricity. Pathways for biomass per scenario SSP1 In total, Figure 4 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint. Figure 5 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint. Figure 6 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint.

Figure 7 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint. The difference between the dotted line and the normal line represents the CO 2 emissions that are captured and stored in the subsurface. Annual cost of supply of energy The annual costs for the supply of energy see Fig. Figure 8 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint.

Biofuel and Waste-to-Energy from Sugar Cane

Relative costs of supply of energy for the scenarios as modeled in this study. In this figure SSP2 is considered as the reference situation. Costs for power, industry, and transport represent CAPEX and OPEX for conversion technologies costs for transportation only represents the costs for the conversion of primary energy to fuels, thus exclude the purchase costs for vehicles, as well as the primary energy carriers. The costs for domestic supply represent indigenous production of biomass and fossil fuels. Discussion The aim of this study was to explore the extent to which biomass could be used in the future energy and chemical system in Brazil.

Conclusion The aim of this study was to explore the role that biomass can play in meeting the demand for energy and chemicals, and the mitigation of GHG emissions in Brazil up to

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