Increased supply of clean and renewable energy in the Brazilian energy matrix, contributing to carbon capture and combating global warming, improving air quality in cities, use of degraded areas for agriculture and preserving forest areas. The environmental benefits derived from the cultivation of sugarcane and the use of its products are diverse and impact the whole society in a positive way.
Our business model is aligned with one of the main global environmental demands: reducing CO2 emissions to limit global warming. All countries and productive sectors are vulnerable to climate change and its possible consequences, such as changes in the rainfall regime, water scarcity and desertification of fertile areas. That is why the Paris Agreement, signed in 2015 at COP-21, and meeting the goals of the signatory nations are so relevant to boosting a low carbon economy.
Brazil ratified the Paris Agreement in September 2016, committing itself to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 37% below 2005 levels by 2025. By 2030, this reduction is expected to reach a level of 43%. To achieve these objectives, the country will seek to increase the share of biofuels, such as ethanol, in the energy matrix and expand the share of renewable sources such as biomass for energy generation.
Part of our production of hydrated ethanol is already directed to the production of green polyethylene, a technology nationally developed that replaces the input obtained from fossil fuels. Last year, we sold 160.2 thousand cubic meters to Braskem, a company of the Odebrecht Group that holds the patent for green polyethylene. G4-EN27
Studies conducted in Brazil by researchers from the State University of Campinas (Unicamp) and the International Energy Agency (an organization with 29 member countries) indicate that the use of ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 80% and 90% compared to the use of gasoline. G4-EN27
Biomass energy generation also has important environmental benefits. The input is renewable and clean because the CO2 emissions from the burning of the straw and sugarcane bagasse are removed by carbon sequestration from the atmosphere, by means of reeds growth. In addition, the production of energy during the harvest has its peak in periods with lower rainfall intensity, allowing water from the reservoirs of hydroelectric plants to be stored.
Despite the tangible benefits of bioenergetics derived from sugarcane, the sugar-energy sector has the challenge of transforming these differentials into commercial advantages, allowing the replacement of fossil fuels in the energy matrix. The environmental and health impacts generated by the atmospheric emissions of these products are not yet adequately priced by national public policies.
Control of fires in the cane fields Our agricultural operations are fully mechanized and there is no burning of sugarcane to harvest our sugar cane. Fires that occur on plantations are involuntary phenomena, caused by external events (such as lightning strikes) or equipment failures. Through an ecoindicator weekly monitored, we follow the occurrences of this type of event.
In the 2016/2017 harvest, the fire rate per ton of ground cane was 2.30, above the target of 0.82 established for the period. Because of this performance, we plan to intensify the training actions for Leaders and teams, in order to improve the washing and cleaning activities of harvesters, as well as the investigations and corrective actions to mitigate the occurrences with an internal origin.
Focusing on the control of fires by external factors, in the last harvest we expanded the lightning monitoring system for all our Units. The technology, which emits alerts at least 30 minutes in advance when there are lightning hazards in the region, has the role of preventing fires, ensuring the safety of Members and increasing productivity, as it reduces the number of outages.
The system has been used since 2014 by the Rio Claro Unit (Goiás Pole) and, in its first year of implementation, it provided a 34% increase in productivity and a reduction of more than 60% in reaction time to the outbreaks of fire in the agricultural area, reducing the losses caused by burned sugar cane.