Biomass Production in the Brazilian Savanna: a comparative study between traditional farming and large monoculture system

Authors and Affiliations: 

Ana Pimenta Ribeiro, Leibniz University Hannover

Corresponding author: 
Ana Pimenta Ribeiro

The opportunity for renewable energy production in developing countries is a theme of high relevance within the context of climate change. Having experienced an unexpectedly weak rainy season in 2013-2015, with a low amount of rainfall, the Brazilian population has had to deal with the consequences of an electrical system that is highly dependent on hydropower and the associated effects of water and energy rationing in the country's largest cities and its regions (Escobar 2015;Brasileiro 2014; Corrêa 2014). Without investments in the sector, without the necessary water quantity, and without an alternative source of clean energy, the country is appealing as never before to thermoelectric energy to meet its demand, making the system more expensive and environmentally dirty (Gomes 2014).
Being a pioneer in the use of biofuels (Goldemberg 2008), biomass currently contributes to only 7% of the total share of electricity in Brazil. According to the trend of decarbonizing energy production, based on the 2050 reduction targets of CO2 emissions and the recent target of a 20% increase in the share of renewable energy (other than hydropower) in electricity generation in the country by 2030 (Mason and Volcovici 2015), the prospect of potential energy production through biomass in Brazil has become an important factor for the country’s decision-makers. Even though it is currently an expensive source of energy, the increased use of biomass tends to lower the production costs.
In the other hand, traditional farming is currently seen in the country as a barrier to the development. As we see the Minister of Rural Development been extinct by the new government, incentives to large production areas and companies tend to grow.
In this context, this paper aim to test a methodology to estimate and compare the biomass production inducted by an industrial monoculture model and a model managed by traditional farmers.
Historically the monoculture tends to be considered more profitable and with higher yields, but when we consider costs with water and area, for example, we can have a different picture. Comparing data from satellite image classifications and projections of land use trends in a traditional managed area with large silviculture production areas, we sought to assess the potential of the traditional farming for both nature conservation and energy production.


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Escobar H (2015) Water security. Drought triggers alarms in Brazil’s biggest metropolis. Science 347:812. doi: 10.1126/science.347.6224.812
Goldemberg J (2008) The Brazilian biofuels industry. Biotechnol Biofuels 1:6. doi: 10.1186/1754-6834-1-6
Gomes K (2014) Para evitar crise, Brasil precisa diversificar matriz energética. In: Deutsch Welle Bras. Accessed 18 Aug 2014
Mason J, Volcovici V (2015) U.S., Brazil pledge to raise renewable energy in power output. Reuters

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