The project featured below will implement a German solution in Brazil that uses organic waste to generate renewable energy and produce fertilizers that benefit the agricultural chain. PlanET's Waste to Energy technology converts waste into biogas and will be especially useful for the sugar-alcohol sector. The initiative was developed in partnership with Brazilian Fornari Indústria and the first customer to receive the solution is Indústria Nova Galia, located in the state of Goiás.
Learn more in an interview with Athaydes Leite, PlanET's project director in Latin America.
1 - PlanET offers a solution that uses organic waste to generate renewable energy and produce fertilizers that benefit the agricultural chain. Could you explain how the Waste to Energy technology that will be applied in Brazil works?
Our waste-to-energy technology enables the conversion of organic waste into various energy sources. The choice of the final product of the power plant will depend on its local commercialization. The waste-to-energy business models have shown very good economic viability with the generation of revenues through the sale of electricity, heat, biomethane and fertilizer. This brings the financial feedback on the investment in a short term. Thus, in addition to socioeconomic development, we also have the great environmental benefit, achieved with the conservation of nature's resources.
2 - Please explain what kind of technological advances PlanET's solution offers in comparison to existing solutions in Brazil.
The technology applied in the conversion of organic waste into energy is fully controlled and monitored by various parameters and sensors that ensure the production of continuous, reliable and lasting energy.
3 - The Nova Galia sugar and alcohol industry, which has a sugarcane processing plant, is the first to use the technology. How can PlanET's solution benefit the company?
In the case of Nova Galia, the residues from sugar and ethanol production will be converted into biomethane, which in turn will replace the Diesel used in the trucks that transport sugarcane to the mill. This independence from fossil fuels is extremely important if we are to avoid major crises such as that of truck drivers in Brazil in May 2018.
4 - What will be the capacity to process organic waste by means of PlanET Brazil's solution? In the case of Nova Galia, how much sugarcane waste can be transformed into biogas per harvest? What is your expected annual biogas generation capacity?
By 2020 we are starting the annual processing of approximately 11,000,000 kg of waste, which will produce about 260,000 m³ of biomethane. However, the expansion of processing an even larger amount of organic waste is already being planned.
5 - Do you have any estimate regarding the life expectancy of the biogas plant?
The minimum durability of PlanET's power plant is 20 years. All the components are high-quality ones and guarantee energy production safety for even more years.
6 - What types of materials and waste can be converted into biogas? How can we obtain greater efficiency?
All organic waste can be converted into energy. However, there are certain organic waste with a higher concentration of calorific value when compared to others. For example, the "fresher and greener" the material is, the greater the possibility of taking energy from it. PlanET has more than 21 years of experience in producing energy from organic waste. We have already developed several optimization processes to efficiently remove energy from waste. Our know-how lies in the processes of biological conversion into energy. We aim to continuously support our partners in the operation of the plants through the years of energy production, always offering the most efficient and cost-effective way of processing waste.
7 - What type of maintenance service is required for a biogas plant? Would it be scalable and viable for small producers?
Yes, as PlanET's power plants are fully automated and monitored, the maintenance and operation system is very simple to conduct. We offer various training courses for our customers, including seminars on biotechnological innovations aimed at the even more profitable production of energy from waste.
8 - Tell us about the possibility of supplying organic fertilizers by means of technology. In the case of Nova Galia, will digestate, a digested material from the biogas plant, be used in the sugarcane culture itself? How much of this input can be obtained through the process?
Yes, digestate will be used as fertilizer in the sugarcane culture itself in Nova Galia. The amount of digestate generated is practically the same as the organic waste that enters the process of anaerobic digestion of the power plant. After processing and fermentation of the organic waste, it is transformed by microorganisms into a fertilizer with high nutritional content. In addition, digestate as a fertilizer offers greater bioavailability of nutrients to plants, which start to grow with greater vigour, thus increasing the productivity of the crop.
9 - Will the use of organic fertilizers obtained through the process be sufficient to avoid the use of artificial fertilizers?
At first, the amount of fertilizer produced will not be enough, but it is expected that with the increase in the processing of organic waste and, consequently, the production of energy, the percentage of substitution of artificial fertilizers will increase.
10 - Could this solution that transforms waste into energy be adapted according to the needs of each customer? For example, could technology focus on producing energy, heating or biofuels? Is it possible to produce all these resources at the same time?
Yes, PlanET offers the technology for processing organic waste and producing energy in a fully individualized way. We adapt to the conditions of each customer and also already consider all the existing infrastructure on site so we can avoid unnecessary investment expenses. As for power generation at the plant, we have the ability to trade all commodities simultaneously. What will determine the economic viability of this business model will be the marketing of the plant's products such as electricity, heat and biomethane.
11 - What types of industry can benefit from the technology? In which sectors do you see the greatest potential?
In addition to the sugar and alcohol plants, the agro-industry with the production of animal protein, the food industries and cities with urban organic waste are the biggest beneficiaries from PlanET's technology for converting organic waste into energy. In general, all sectors that generate organic waste can also be considered with this technology.
12 - The circular economy is a subject increasingly discussed when we talk about sustainability. How can the consortium's solution impact agricultural activities at the local level? What would be the main gains for communities?
Local communities benefit from the implementation of PlanET's power plants by improving their quality of life. Environmental preservation increases the quality of the air people breathe and also improves the water they use daily. Added to this we also have the reduction in gases that cause global warming, generally improving the lives of people all over the world. Depending on the business model of the power plant from organic waste, there is the socioeconomic development of the communities, where people also actively participate in the operation and production of energy.
13 - Could you explain how you intend to offer an after-sales service to customers in the Brazilian market?
We work with several local partners in different locations and Brazilian states so that we always have someone close to meet the most urgent needs. We are also equipped with a remote monitoring and control network that allows us to intervene in the process from anywhere in the world. We have always developed methods of action in the production of energy that ensures the continuous and safe production of electricity/heat or biomethane.
14 - How do you see the opportunities and challenges for the development of the biogas sector in Brazil?
The Brazilian market has great potential for energy production from organic waste. However, this potential has to be channelled with good projects that are economically sustainable. Therefore, we work with several companies for the nationalization of various equipment and we are also in talks and discussions with different sectors responsible for making decisions in the energy market and waste processing. We believe that together we can always achieve greater results with benefits for all. We recently partnered with the company Fornari Indústria in a Joint Venture. We also signed a cooperation agreement with Associação Catarinense de Criadores de Suínos (Pig Breeders Association from Santa Catarina - ACCS). Joining forces, PlanET is also in partnership with companies FI BRA Geração, Dote Energia and NG Bioenergia.