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Sustainable vehicles should comprise half Itaipu’s fleet in 2016
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Itaipu Binational may bring forward by three years the target of having half the Brazilian section of the plant’s fleet composed of sustainable vehicles that run on green fuels or are equipped with electric engines. This index is currently at 35%. The target set by the plant’s corporate planning during the tactical and operational review is to reach 50% by 2020.
“But we hope to reach the end of 2016 with half the fleet consisting of sustainable vehicles”, reports the manager of the Department of General Services, Martinho Jonatas Hagedorn. The subject was discussed at the plant on Tuesday (September 1), during the delivery of 30 new Fiat Siena Tetrafuel cars that run on biomethane, a natural gas derived from the processing of agricultural waste.
With the new acquisitions, Itaipu now has 36 vehicles capable of running on biomethane. These include 32 Siena Tetrafuels, which come from the factory with a vehicle gas, and four vehicles adapted by a mechanic workshop certified by the National Agency of Petroleum (ANP): three Mitsubishi L200 Triton flex-fuel trucks and a Chevrolet Cobalt flex-fuel car.
Of the total 250 vehicles in the Brazilian section, 112 are flexible-fuel (44.8%), 53 electric (21.2%), 36 can run on biomethane (14.4%) and 49 on diesel (19.6%). Another seven Siena Tetrafuels are already in the process of being purchased. Another 30 Sienas will mean reaching the 50% target of sustainable vehicles (ethanol is not considered a 100% sustainable fuel).
According to the superintendent for Renewable Energy, Herlon Goelzer de Almeida, “Itaipu’s adoption of biomethane is strongly linked to the company’s mission and vision for 2020 because it meets all the principles of sustainability, which is based on three dimensions; environmental, economic and social”.  
He explains the advantage of each of these.  “Environmental benefits include the treatment of waste that would otherwise contaminate streams by converting it into biofuel.  Another gain is the reduction in the greenhouse effect. In the social sphere, a new channel of business can be created by expanding new work fronts for family-run farms and as a result, on the economic front you create a new product for the waste that previously would have served only as manure at best.”
After the presentation of the new cars the group proceeded to the biomethane station installed in the Itaipu Technology Park (PTI) to receive information on how the gas is supplied.
The gas station was designed by technicians and engineers from Itaipu’s Renewable Energies Department and the International Center for Renewable Energies (CIBiogás), and receives gas produced in biodigesters at Granja Haacke in Santa Helena, a partner in the project. Next, the 30 Sienas were delivered to the respective areas of the Transport Division.
Martinho Hagedorn explained that, given the current limited supply of biomethane, for the time being only 16 personnel can use the vehicles, with pre-scheduled fill-ups on Tuesday and Friday mornings.  They will serve as test pilots, assessing the fuel’s performance and advising the sector on any problems or suggestions.
Next year, however, supply of the fuel will be expanded with the acquisition of new cylinders for the filling station and construction of a demonstration unit for biomethane production in front of the Vertedouro Lookout Point. “The idea is that, in the future, everyone will be able to fill up with biomethane”, said Martinho.
Pilot tests
Susana de Souza da Silva Rodrigues will be one of the test pilots for the biomethane-driven vehicles. She followed the presentation of the new car beside Walter Toshio Shirabe.
“I think this experience is very important because it’s in line with all Itaipu’s work to encourage sustainable practices in the company”, said Susan. 
For Eli Marcos Finco, in addition to environmental gains, Itaipu’s initiative has the potential to benefit small farmers from the region, for whom the activity (biomethane production) represents a new source of income.  “I have no doubt that it’s an excellent initiative and I’m happy to contribute.”
Robson Estacio Colombelli paid close attention to the explanations given by the Fiat representative on how the car works. He was keen not to miss a single detail. “Now we’re going to put it to use and see how it performs in practice. It’s definitely a great alternative for using this technology.”