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Biogas production model from Paraná will be replicated in Uruguay
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27/08/2013

The initiative of the Itaipu Binational for the production of biogas in small rural properties in the west region of the state of Paraná, starting with the use of residue from the agricultural and cattle breeding activities, will be replicated in the Department (State) of San Jose, next to Montevideo, in Uruguay.

The Memorandum of Understanding required for the Project’s development was signed this Friday (23) in the Itaipu Technological Park (PTI), at the Itaipu (Hydroelectric) Plant, in Foz do Iguaçu, Paraná, by representatives of the Binational, Eletrobras and the National Administration of Electric and Transmission Plants from Uruguay (UTE), associated to the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining of Uruguay.

The President of Eletrobras, José da Costa Carvalho Neto; the Diretor of Energy of Uruguay, Minister Ramón Méndez; the President of UTE, Gonzalo Casaravilla; the Brazilian General-Director of Itaipu, Jorge Samek; and the Superintendent of Renewable Energies of the Binacional, Cícero Bley Jr., participated in the ceremony.

The signature took place at the headquarters of the Centro Internacional de Energias Renováveis (CIBiogás-ER), installed at the PTI. Next, the committee made a technical visit to the Itaipu Plant and, then, left by helicopter to visit the Agro-Energy Condo for Family Agriculture Sanga Ajuricaba, in Marechal Cândido Rondon, at the West of Paraná, 180 kilometers from Foz do Iguaçu.

At the condo, which comprises 33 small farmers, residue from the agricultural production (pigs and dairy cattle) is transferred to anaerobic digesters for the extraction of methane. These digesters are connected by 22 kilometers of gas pipeline to a thermoelectric central, which supplies energy to local farmers.

The entire surplus may be sold to the state’s energy distributor and the organic matter from the bio-digester is transformed in a high quality bio-fertilizer. In other words, what was previously an environmental problem is now transformed into a new source of revenue for the farmer.

It is this exact experience that Uruguay intends to implement. “The project represents the basis for the transformation of the agroindustry and industry residues in energy. It is also critical for the integration of our peoples, and our countries, said the Minister Ramón Méndez.

Gonzalo Casaravilla, President of the UTE, reminded that, today, Uruguay is going through a strong industrial development, particularly in the production of milk, and that this activity has impacted the environment, with the risk of contamination of soils and rivers. “Therefore, using the residues to produce biogas and, with that, generate energy and connect it to the electrical grid, is fantastic”, he commented.

From Itaipu to the world

José da Costa Carvalho Neto explained that the project is sponsored by Eletrobras, through a group formed by the world’s 13 greatest energy companies. The idea is to strength the United Nations goals of the full supply of electrical energy for the entire planet’s population until 2030.
Today, around 1.3 billion people are excluded from the delivery of electrical energy – almost 20% of the world’s population.

“At first, we will take this experience to Uruguay, so the country can become a disseminator of this technology. Next, we intend to take this technique to the United Nations, so it may be also applied in other countries in Asia and Africa”, said Carvalho Neto. “So, I would say that this is a technological contribution from Itaipu to the world”, he declared.

The President of Eletrobras added that the biogas represents a clean and cheap form of energy, of sustainable nature, and it proves that even large enterprises – such as Itaipu – can generate a positive impact in the community it operates. “It is an example of how a hydroelectric use has an impact in the national, regional, and also local developments”, he complemented.

Model

O pilot Project in the Department of San Jose will have very similar features as the Ajuricaba’s project, in Marechal Cândido Rondon. In Uruguay, 31 small milk producing farms will be connected to a micro-central thermoelectric plant by 14 kilometers of gas pipeline.

The Project was divided in three phases. When it is completely concluded, in two years from now, it will present a daily productivity of 780 cubic meters of gas (against 800 cubic meters of the Brazilian experience), with a possibility of electrical energy sale, generated for the local concessionaire.

Cícero Bley Jr. commented that, regardless of the quantity of energy produced in the condo, the impact of the new activity for the farmer is very significant. “This energy is equivalent to an oil well in each property”, he compared.

An assessment presented by three Uruguayan students of the Renewable Energies course at the Universidade Federal da Integração Latino-Americana (Unila), in Foz do Iguaçu, shows that, in 2012, the estimate is that the country figured 732 thousand heads of dairy cattle and 220 thousand pigs, with a production potential of up to 78 million cubic meters of gas per year – or 12.6 MW.

“For Itaipu, it is a dream come true to see the integration of universities such as Eletrobras, with professors, students, farmers, cooperatives, in a very strong sustainability process”, Jorge Samek highlighted, reminding that Paraná, besides having only 3% of the national territory, is responsible for 20% of the agricultural production of the country, and for almost the same percentage of the energy production.

“In five or six years, the agriculture will produce its own energy, supply your electric car, and everything with no cost for the environment”, he estimated.

Partnerships

The project of electrical energy generation from biogas in the Department of San Jose has among its partners the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (GSEP), the United Nations Development Program (PNUD) and the National Institute of Agricultural Investigation (INIA).

In Ajuricaba, the project is developed by Itaipu since 2009, in partnership with the Instituto Paranaense de Assistência Técnica e Extensão Rural (Emater), Copel, the City of Marechal Cândido Rondon, Embrapa, Movimento Nacional dos Pequenos Agricultores (MPA), Instituto de Tecnologia Aplicada e Inovação (ITAI) and the Fundação Parque Tecnológico Itaipu (FPTI).