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01/09/2010 - 13:24hs

Cane has record-high share of energy matrix

Last year, sugarcane had the highest share of the Brazilian energy matrix since 1992, according to a Statistics Institute survey. Presently, cane accounts for 18% of power generation in the country.

Rio de Janeiro – A survey conducted by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) and disclosed this Wednesday (1st) shows that in 2009, sugarcane reached the highest share of the Brazilian energy matrix ever since the survey started being conducted, in 1992. The product's share, which had peaked at 14.5% in 1994, increased from 10.9% to 18% between 2000 and 2009.

The 2010 Sustainable Development Indicator survey (IDS, in the Portuguese acronym) confirms that Brazil is increasing its use of renewable energy sources such as cane. Between 1999 and 2009, the rate of non-renewable energy (oil, natural gas) in the matrix dropped from 57.7% to 52.8%, whereas the rate of renewable energy grew from 42.3% to 47.2%.

According to the survey, the increase is due to growing possibilities of use of energy from sources such as the sun, wind, and cane, as well as new investment in hydroelectric plants. In coming years, the plants of Jirau and Santo Antônio, in the Madeira River, in the state of Rondônia, should start operating. "New thermal and thermonuclear plants are also in the plans," informs the text.

The document warns, however, that the use of renewable energy may have various social-environmental impacts. Hydroelectric plants cause damage, such as the flooding of forests, changes in the regime of rivers, and population displacement, as well as cane production and the use of firewood and charcoal also pose problems.

"It must be taken into consideration that cane requires vast extensions of land and chemicals in order to be produced," pondered one of those responsible for the survey, Judicael Clevelario Junior. Regarding firewood and charcoal, the survey calls attention to the fact that "a significant share of comes from deforestation and the burning of native forests," especially in the Cerrado (Brazilian Savannah) and Amazon regions.

Nonetheless, data supplied by the Brazilian Energy Research Company show that betting on renewable sources is a solution for the growing demand for energy. Since 2002, the rate of said energy per person is growing constantly, and in 2009 it reached 48.3 gigajoules (GJ) per citizen, a rate second only to the 50 GJ/citizen recorded in 2008, the highest since records started being kept, in 1992.

With regard to non-renewable energy sources, the IBGE assessed the level of oil and gas reserves in Brazil, estimating that oil reserves should last another 17 years, counting from this year, and gas reserves should last 15 years. The calculation does not include the Pre-Salt Layer reserves.

*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum

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