Sugar Cane waste product to usuable energy.
Here’s a promising project: Brazilian and Italian entrepreneurs are investing $114 million in a plan to convert bagasse, a waste product from sugar cane, into pellets that can be burned as fuel at your average, run-of-the-mill coal plant. By next year, utilities around the world will likely be getting thousands of megawatts of power from sugar cane waste.The company, called Brazil Pellet has already successfully tested the technology in a pilot program. From Green Inc:
Brazilian Pellet plans to begin production in the third quarter of 2010 in its first plant in São Paulo, home to more than half the production of Brazil’s sugar cane industry — the world’s largest. By 2015, Brazil Pellet plans to reach 520,000 tons a year of pellet production, an amount that would produce 2,420 gigawatts of energy.
Now, there will certainly be concerns about the emissions of such a fuel, especially since they’re being burned at coal plants. But the company makes this point: “If you just let the bagasse decay it releases methane, and that’s 20 percent more dangerous to the ozone layer than carbon dioxide,” said Ivan Nuñez, a banker with the IDB arranging the financing for Brazilian Pellet. “So, burning it instead gives you carbon credits.”
The other, perhaps most intriguing aspect of the project is that currently, sugar cane waste is just being dumped and treated as garbage. Since the waste product already exists, it means creating the pellets requires no resource-intensive crop watering , as must be done with other biofuels. Brazilian Pellet will no doubt be a company to watch in 2010.