08/27/2014 14h40

Estre inaugurates its first plant to generate energy from biogas in São Paulo

Plant located in Guatapará is part of the first cycle of the company's investments, which reaches R$ 300 million; Project is held through joint-venture with the Portuguese company ENC ENERGY

Investe São Paulo

Estre, a Brazilian company that develops environmental solutions for all stages of waste management, put into operation, in Guatapará, its first plant to generate energy from biogas. The project relies on the support from Investe São Paulo, the investment promotion agency of the State, associated with the Secretariat of Economic Development, Science, Technology and Innovation of the State.

The plant in Guatapará received investments of R$ 15 million, but in total the project contemplates R$ 300 million for the construction of plants in 10 of the main landfills owned by the company by 2017. The company estimates a R$ 200 million revenue per year once the 10 plants are in operation.

According to Estre’s New Business Director, Alexandre Alvim, the project was only made possible thanks to the support of Investe São Paulo. “The agency helped us obtain the suspension of ICMS on the imports of machines that convert gas into energy, supplied by GE and that are not manufactured in the country yet. According to him, it reduced the cost by approximately 12%.

To enter the energy market, Estre teamed up in a joint-venture with the Portuguese company ENC ENERGY, to create Estre Energia Renovável. ENC ENERGY already operates with the generation of biogas from landfills in Europe and has a similar operation in Minas Gerais.

Currently, the plant located in Guatapará has installed capacity of 4.2 megawatts of power, a potential for monthly production of 3,000 MWh – which is equivalent to supplying a population of 18,000 inhabitants, considering the average consumption in the Southeastern region of the country.

“Projects focused the generation of renewable energy and waste recovery such as Estre’s receive priority assistance at Investe São Paulo,” said the President of the agency, Luciano Almeida. “We are proud to be one of the States that most favors the production of clean energy in the country. We are the only state that has 55% of the renewable energy sources and the Government’s goal is to reach 69% by 2020,” he says.

Sustainable choice

Estre's decision to enter the energy market is related to the collapse of the carbon credit market. In the past, according Alvim, landfills performed the controlled burning of garbage that, through the control of carbon monoxide  emissions (gas closely related to problems such as global warming and greenhouse effect), generated assets to be sold in a regional market.

However, to have an idea, while it was worth up about 12 euros per ton in 2008, when the sale of carbon credits was high, today it is worth only 12 cents per ton. “It is a price that doesn’t even pay the audit of greenhouse gas emissions,” says the director.

Thus, the company realized that it should take advantage of the gas generated in its landfills in a way that would avoid controlled combustion. Three possibilities were studied: converting the waste into vehicle gas, cooking gas or energy.

“We evaluated the cost, technological risk and financial return of the three projects and concluded that energy would be the best option. Especially when taking into account that, due to climate changes and the increased consumption of the population, the price of this commodity in the spot market has increased significantly. Only in 2013, there was 74% growth,” said Alvim.

Considering the top 10 Waste Management Centers of the Company, the energy generation potential of Estre could reach 100 MW.

About Estre

Estre is the largest company of environmental services in Brazil, operating in the entire chain - collection, transport, recovery, treatment and laboratory analysis. Recognized for being innovative and modern, Estre operates with technical rigor and deep respect for the environment. Its four pillars of operation are collection and transportation, recovery, treatment and oil and gas. It is present in the main markets of Brazil, Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Bogota (Colombia). It sponsors the Estre Institute, which takes the concepts of environmental education to thousands of children and promote reforestation.