Power plant and sustainable agricultural expansion: the future of the state of Roraima is promising

Brasil BioFuels - BBF, a company that was born and raised in the area, continues to invest in the development of the region and is preparing to take new steps.
March 2nd, 2023

Roraima, a Brazilian state located in the north of the country, is home to the northernmost point of the national territory, Mount Caburaí. Inserted in the Amazon biome, both its vegetation cover and climate vary from one area of the state to the other, differing mainly between west and east. Roraima is the least populous and least populated state in Brazil. Brasil BioFuels - BBF is one of the main companies generating employment in the area, offering energy, environmental and sustainable solutions, valuing the local people and culture and contributing to the development of the state.

BBF is present in five states in the North region, operating with a verticalized business model, which starts with the sustainable cultivation of oil palm, recovering degraded areas and helping to decarbonize the Amazon; through the development of biofuels, presenting a more sustainable option for the population; to the renewable energy sector, contributing to the energy transition and offering clean and cheaper energy for the region. Today, the company is present in Acre, Amazonas, Pará, Rondônia, and Roraima - and it is for this last state that a series of novelties and projects of the group are destined for this year. It was in Roraima that the company started its operations, in 2008, and maintains its headquarters there to this day. In the state, there are more than 15 thousand hectares of planted oil palm, a hybrid thermoelectric plant with capacity to supply 31 thousand residents of the state.

At the end of last year, BBF inaugurated a hybrid power plant in São João da Baliza (RR). The plant has an installed capacity of 17.9 MW, divided into two generating units, and involved an investment of R$ 166 million. Furthermore, it is the first in the country to combine vegetable oil and biomass. The

inputs are obtained from the processing of palm oil. "With this new thermoelectric plant, we will have the complete cycle in our operation: we plant, harvest, crush the fruit, produce biofuels and generate electricity and, from now on, we will transform the resulting biomass into energy and dispose of part of the waste from our operation properly and productively. It's a completely sustainable model," comments Milton Steagall, CEO of Grupo BBF.

The feasibility of this plant began in 2019, when the government held the first energy auction of the isolated systems to supply energy to the capital city of Boa Vista and its surroundings - the only place not yet interconnected to the Brazilian electrical system. Previously, part of the supply was via importation of energy from a hydroelectric plant in Venezuela, complemented with diesel-fired thermoelectric generation - which is very polluting and, in addition, involves high fuel costs and risks to energy security. The new option is cleaner, cheaper, more sustainable and secure.

BBF's new hybrid power plant will avoid the burning of about 43 million liters of fossil fuel per year in the Amazon region. The replacement of fossil diesel will save the population and the environment from the emission of about 99,000 tons of carbon annually into the atmosphere. In addition, it is important to emphasize that, since the BBF concentrates so many activities, this leads to a robust generation of jobs in the state.

New business in ethanol from corn 

The production of ethanol from corn for the North region is on the list of projects on the horizon for BBF, which is leading a pioneering initiative in this environment. The expectation is to produce more than 300 million liters annually, and the official launch is planned for 2024. Currently, the company is in the environmental licensing process with two plants - one in Rondônia and the other precisely in Roraima. "I am very excited about the integrated project we have in Roraima, where we are already operating a hybrid thermoelectric plant powered by biomass and vegetable oil, both coming from the oil palm," details Steagall.

"In Roraima, 90% of the licensed vehicles are flex. That is, there is a big domestic market for ethanol, but today, for the product to get there, it is still very expensive. Producing it there will lower the cost of this ethanol for the population, besides being a more sustainable option. And the work with corn has no waste - it is fully used," he added.

Expansion of cultivation 

BBF has a bold goal to significantly expand oil palm cultivation in the North of the country, especially in Roraima. "In 2022, we planted 10,000 hectares. For 2023, the goal is 20,000. We want to keep this pace, which is a very aggressive module. Our work is to recover the Amazon Forest, which was degraded in the past, into a productive area again, with a process that is clean and sustainable," explains the CEO. "We have to change this common mentality that where man is, there is destruction. It is not like that. The union between man and nature is virtuous and inexorable for it to remain for eternity. What we do is bring solutions to the problems that arise", he points out.

Oil palm cultivation has a positive balance in terms of carbon emissions and generates jobs in the field, since both planting and harvesting cannot be mechanized, and it keeps people in the field. It is a direct aid to the Amazon biome. With the 75 thousand hectares of oil palm cultivated in the Amazon region, BBF currently captures more than 463 thousand tons of carbon. Another interesting fact is the removal of more than 106 million liters of fossil diesel per year, since the electric power generated by BBF is produced from palm oil biofuels - which is totally natural - substituting the highly polluting fossil diesel.

Future projects 

Another project that is already on the radar involves the development of the groundbreaking Green Diesel (HVO) and Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) biofuels - the agricultural expansion process in Roraima is directly linked to the plants to kick-start the business. The launch is planned for the end of 2025, but the "behind the scenes" work is already happening. There is an agricultural expansion process underway in Roraima for the HVO and SAF plants - with an additional 100,000 hectares of oil palm planting. "Labor hiring is imminent and growing month by month. Every month, as we expand our plantation, we add more employees. In this expansion, we have initially doubled the capacity of the palm crushing industry and brought in new equipment. The planted trees will already start producing fruit, so we have to be prepared for this to happen in an orderly way. All these steps we have programmed and are implementing little by little," says Steagall.

Image of palm plantations grupo BBF

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