Sao Paulo state seeks biomethane boost

  • Market: Natural gas
  • 13/05/24

Brazil's Sao Paulo state is seeking to capitalize on growing demand for renewable energy, announcing a series of measures to increase biogas and biomethane production across various sectors, including sugarcane, waste management firms and waste agriculture.

As Brazil's largest sugar and ethanol producing state, Sao Paulo has substantial potential to leverage existing infrastructure and resources — especially vinasse, a byproduct of ethanol production — to increase biomethane output.

To boost output, the state government will streamline environmental licensing for new projects through new rules that should attract investment, according to the state's environment undersecretary for energy and mining, Marisa Barros.

The focus will initially be on the sugar and ethanol industry, which can produce 30mn m³/d of biogas. Biogas contains 50pc methane, which can be processed into biomethane, a drop-in substitute for natural gas.

The state is also seeking to attract investment in biogas production from animal waste, which can produce up to 5mn m³/d. The government estimates that roughly 190,000 farms in the state can install biodigestors to produce biogas, which would contribute to lower emissions in the state.

The state agriculture secretary also approved the use of the Sao Paulo agribusiness expansion fund (Feap) for investments in biodigestors as well as new solar power installations. And earlier this year state regulatory agency Arsesp stipulated a discount on distribution fees for biomethane sold on the wholesale market.

Brazil's energy research company EPE sees significant potential for the sugarcane industry to expand biomethane production, in part because it has the advantage of having many mills adjacent to existing gas distribution infrastructure.

In addition to selling the renewable gas on the wholesale market, many mills are using biomethane in their own operations and to substitute diesel in their trucks and machinery, contributing to lower fuel costs and emissions.


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