Sugarcane bagasse could benefit Brazil power

By Anna Austin
Web exclusive posted Oct. 24, 2008 at 9:48 a.m. CST

An analysis completed by researchers at Frost & Sullivan has found that Brazil may possess the capabilities to experience considerable benefits from the use of sugarcane bagasse for power generation, reducing its dependence on hydropower.

According to the study, titled "Sugarcane Bagasse for Power Generation in Brazilian Markets," biomass currently represents approximately 4.1 percent of the total installed energy capacity in Brazil, the majority of which is derived from sugarcane bagasse. "There is a clear trend toward the implementation of boilers with higher steam production capacity," the study's summary stated. "New boilers and steam turbines with higher capacity and efficiency would substantially increase the electricity surplus the plants would be able to sell."

Julio Campos, industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan, said the study demonstrates that Brazil currently generates approximately 83 percent of its electricity through hydroelectric dams. "It will greatly depend on their water level, so during drought periods the country may find serious problems to supply energy to the matrix," Campos said. "Following this, the creation of new installed capacity to generate energy from sugarcane bagasse will drive a very positive diversification of the Brazilian electric energy matrix."

Campos noted that the Brazil National Bank for Economic and Social Development has created several lines to finance power plants that require new equipment and upgrades in order to produce excess energy that can be sold to the national grid.

"Another significant restraint for the cogeneration market is the lack of connection to the electric grid," Campos said. "In addressing this, many sugarcane cogeneration-related associations are working on building generation distributive center units that will collectively transmit electricity cogenerated in the mills and input it into the grid."

The study also recommends structured tax and financial policies, which would serve as a driver for the expansion of sugarcane bagasse cogeneration technologies, including easy and efficient connection to the electric grid, and the establishment of fair prices to pay back the high investment of the mills.

The full version of the study is available to Frost and Sullivan Clients who have access to their Energy & Power Growth Partnership Service. To learn more about Frost and Sullivan, visit