Brazil Making Use of its Eucalyptus Resources
Brazil has more than 100 years of Eucalyptus biomass fuel experience, but the Dow Chemical Company will be the first Brazilian company in the chemical and petrochemical industry to utilise it.
The Dow Chemical Company has signed an 18-year supply agreement with Energias Renováveis do Brasil (ERB), where they will invest, install and operate a 13-megawatt plant next to Dow’s Aratu Complex on the Bahia State in north east Brazil. The Eucalyptus will replace natural gas-fired boiler and will supply 100 percent of its steam requirements for the Aratu site’s propylene oxide and propylene glycol operations and 30 percent of the requirements for the chlor-alkali and hydrochloric acid production units.
Dow and numerous other Brazilian companies choose to use the Eucalyptus species because Brazil has an enormous amount of resources to grow and use the tree for bioenergy. Brazil is the world’s largest producer of Eucalyptus, and the Bahia State is one of its most productive areas.
“Over the past four years, fuel prices have increased sharply in Brazil and biomass provides a proven, abundant and secure source of low-carbon energy,” said Doug May, vice-president of Dow Energy & Climate Change.
He also mentions that the use of Eucalyptus is attractive not only in Brazil, but also in Latin America and other regions. ERB also has three other projects under development in the Bahia State, and ongoing studies to another three more potential projects.
For its Aratu Complex, ERB is establishing a 9,500 hectare Eucalyptus plot at about 150 kilometres from the site to be used for fuel purposes. ERB will be responsible for planting and managing the plantation, harvesting, transporting and chipping the timber. It is predicted that ERB will invest $90 million in the plant, which should begin operation in 2013. The cogeneration facility will reduce carbon dioxide emissions at the site by 180,000 metric tons annually. This saves 200,000 cubic meters of natural gas per day.
Eucalyptus not only represents a massive bio-energy opportunity in Brazil but it also has the potential to develop massively in South America as a whole. According to David Nothmann, the vice-president of business and product development with ArborGen LLC, the Eucalyptus represents the greatest potential of any hard wood tree to produce large amounts of biomass in South America.
Eucalyptus is purpose grown on plantations for biomass in almost 100 countries because of its rapid growth rate and its ability to withstand a variation of climates, disease and pests.
The Eucalyptus tree can hold its own against other renewable energy options, according to May. “Traditional alternative energy sources such as wind and solar cannot provide the necessary heat in the form of steam needed at Aratu. With sufficient local supply, woody biomass is an ideal renewable solution,”