Solar and Biogas, the Perfect Agroenergy Duo in Brazil

  • by Mario Osava (vargeÃo, brazil)
  • Inter Press Service

Thomazzoni, who owns a farm in Vargeão, a small municipality of 3,500 people in the west of the state of Santa Catarina, where he raises and fattens 38,000 hogs, uses the manure to extract biogas and generate 280,000 MW-hours per month.

The generation of energy will increase 46 percent when the solar panels that he is installing on 6,000 square metres of his 100-hectare farm begin to operate. And it will rise further when his largest biodigester, currently under construction, is completed, because it will provide more biogas for his three electric generators.

A new farm, with 30,000 pigs, will represent more meat and more biogas that can be converted into electricity or biomethane, the purified gas used as fuel for trucks, tractors and passenger vehicles.

The enthusiasm of the 60-year-old Thomazzoni is fueled by the promising new business he has been developing over the past four years, which already generates significant additional income.

He also saves on energy costs by consuming a small part of the electricity generated.

And what is left of the manure after the gas is extracted is converted into fertiliser for growing hay and for a eucalyptus plantation used for firewood. "I have an integrated production system," he tells IPS proudly at his farm.

With solar energy, he believes he will achieve a perfect combination, using biogas to generate electricity when there is no sunlight.

Biogas power plants, which are just beginning to take on an important role in Brazil's energy mix, help provide stability to the electric grid affected by the expansion of solar and wind sources, whose intermittency must be offset by a "storable" source to ensure distribution without fluctuations or blackouts.

Biogas also contributes to mitigating global warming, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and helps keep the environment clean by making use of garbage and urban sewage, agricultural waste and manure that would otherwise contaminate the water and soil.

For all of these reasons Thomazzoni has become an activist advocating this alternative source of energy. He heads a national association of pig farmers who produce biogas, which seeks to foment the production of this alternative fuel through agreements that entail mutual benefits, such as market expansion and the exchange of incipient technologies that require adaptation to local conditions.

© Inter Press Service (2019) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service