Brazil opens world’s first ethanol-fired power plant
05 February 2010
On 19 January the world's first flex-fuel ethanol-fired thermal power plant was inaugurated by President Lula at the Petrobras power generation park in the city of Juiz de Fora in Minas Gerais state. Like Brazil's flex-fuel motor vehicles, which can run on ethanol, petrol or a mixture of the two, the new power plant can switch fuels between ethanol and gas.
The Juiz de Fora plant uses two General Electric turbines (LM 600) with a total installed capacity of 87MW. The plant is connected to the national grid and already has power supply contracts until 2020. One of the turbines, with a 43.5MW capacity, has been converted to use ethanol and is capable of meeting the electricity needs of a city with 150 thousand inhabitants.
Petrobras and General Electric started testing the operation with ethanol at the end of December. Preliminary results demonstrate that (i) there is no change in the turbine performance, (ii) lower CO2 emissions are achieved when compared to gas, and (iii) there is a significant reduction in the use of water. Optimization tests under way have already shown that there is also a significant reduction in Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions in comparison to natural gas and diesel.
Although ethanol is more expensive than natural gas, it remains much cheaper than diesel. It therefore makes economic and environmental sense for countries and regions with poor access to gas to use ethanol- rather than diesel-fired thermal plants. Due to their lower NOx emissions, ethanol-fired plants also create the prospect of earning carbon credits through the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol on the international market.
The new flex-fuel power plant is another milestone for Brazil in the use of biofuels and reasserts the country’s leading role in the production and use of ethanol. It represents an important step in moving towards a low-carbon economy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy security.
Source: Ministry of External Relations and Embassy of Brazil in London