Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
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Loughborough University

Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST)


Brazil’s going nuts for bioenergy!
31 October 2018

Richard was invited to take part in a workshop on thermal bioenergy at the Federation of Industries of the State of Paraná (FIEP) by Erich Schaitza Head of Research at EMBRAPA Florestas and former Loughborough University Master of Science student in Renewable Energy Systems Technology.  At the event the Parana State Energy Plan 2031 was presented followed by an overview of forestry plantation resources.  Richard then gave two presentations, one on Heat and Power from Biomass in Europe and a second on Waste to Energy. Around 50 industry, government and university delegates attended. Brazil has very good timber production from fast growing plantation species that are used for a variety of timber and pulp paper uses.  There is considerable potential for decentralised bioenergy making use of forestry and other agricultural residues.

Richard was then able to visit the EMBRAPA forest research facilities and talk with colleagues about their research which includes natural pest controls, developing slow release fertilisers as well as more advanced uses of cellulose for medical purposes. Time was given over for discussions about bioenergy collaborations.

Subsequently, Richard visited the largest power station in the world, the 14GW Itaipu hydro-electric plant and met with Head of Renewable Energy, Paulo Schmidt and colleagues.The company Itaipu Binacional are interested in other renewable energy technology developments, not currently, used as part of their social sustainability programme.  This includes decentralised bioenergy to reduce waste from farms using anaerobic digestion and small-scale forest gasification.  Currently, animal farm slurries get washed into the 170km long reservoir and affect the water quality for nearby residents and wildlife. Using anaerobic digestion not only reduces pollution but provide income generation for farmers in this remote region with biogas sales.  Richard visited the demonstration anaerobic digestion plant where biomethane is used to run vehicles on the Itaipu site. Furthermore, there is significant plantation forestry in the region with the potential for forest residues to be used for energy production. Anaerobic digestion and gasification are two of the energy solutions where collaboration with Loughborough University could take place.  In addition, the large Itaipu reservoir is also a potential site for floating PV in a country with a good solar resource.

Erich Schaitza (left) with colleagues from Itaipu, CIBiogas and Richard Blanchard (right) at the Biogas demonstrator plant.

The visit was funded by Embrapa: the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, part of the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture.