What is the energy transition and why is it so important for the environment?

Brazilian companies such as Brasil BioFuels (BBF) are already directly involved in this movement and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide.

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The energy transition is one of the greatest challenges of the century

The energy transition is a topic that promises to occupy more and more space in daily life and in the news in Brazil and in the world. It has even been described as the great challenge of the century. This week, for example, Eletrobras and Petrobras participated in the opening of the MIT Reap In Rio event, at the Museum of Tomorrow, in Rio de Janeiro. Wilson Ferreira Jr., former president of Vibra Energia, who returned to the command of the state-owned company four months ago, emphasized that Brazil has full conditions to advance and even lead in the global energy transition, having both the assets of his main biggest. capacity to capture carbon and the potential for renewables.

The Minister of Finance, Fernando Haddad, also spoke on this topic, who believes that Brazil’s energy transition could be one of the fastest in the world: “The matrix that is being projected in Brazil is a complex matrix, which includes a transition that is probably the fastest that can be done in the world,” he said. For him, it is necessary to think about the matrix as a whole to promote this transition, without replacing one matrix with another.

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Greenhouse gases are the main cause of the climate crisis (Pixabay)

But ultimately, what is the energy transition and why is it so important?

It’s no news that our planet is getting hotter. Global warming, in addition to causing glaciers to melt and sea levels to rise, causes other climate changes – among them, an increase in phenomena such as hurricanes, floods and fires. There are several reasons that explain these changes. However, the main one is the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Among them, carbon dioxide, which comes mainly from the energy sector. In other words: reducing CO2 emissions is urgent and necessary to curb global warming. “Our society is in a very large inertia in relation to climate change. We are heading for more than 4°C warming, according to IPCC/UN reports. This average global warming means that some areas may experience even more severe temperature increases, that sea levels will rise significantly, and that extreme events such as droughts, floods and heat waves will become more frequent. common,” he explains. Stephanie Maalouf, environmental engineer from Poli-USP with a master’s degree in energy transition from École des Ponts Paristech, in France.

In view of this mission, one of the main actions that must be taken in favor of this objective is precisely the energy transition, which consists of moving from an energy matrix focused on fossil fuels to one with little, if possible zero , carbon emissions. That is, based on renewable resources. The energy transition proposes a complete transformation in the way energy is produced and consumed, increasingly reducing dependence on fossil resources and adopting, instead, clean and renewable sources. With the urgency of action to delay climate change, the energy transition becomes essential.

“The energy transition can be defined as the need to switch our energy systems based on fossil fuels – such as oil, natural gas, coal – to clean or renewable energies – such as nuclear, solar, hydroelectric, biofuels. This also involves, more holistically, not just changing the ways countries generate energy, but rather revising, more broadly and more generally, the ways in which human beings use that energy. In transport, for example, it includes favoring the use of bicycles, followed by public transport and then the electric vehicle or BIOFUELS. In other words, it’s a paradigm shift involving society and the way people consume their goods,” sums up Stephanie. “The energy transition, as well as other forms of mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, are necessary for the environment and for us. Humans evolved on this planet with a relatively stable climate. Agriculture, economy, transport and world trade are based on this. So if we don’t intervene now, bigger crises and irreversible transformations will happen”, he concludes.

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The transition includes changes in some sectors, such as aviation (Pixabay)

Step by step

It is important to note that the energy transition, despite the name, goes far beyond energy – as noted by the expert, it involves changes in the paradigm of the entire system. In addition, it is a process that requires caution to avoid risks, such as power outages or price increases. Transformation is urgent, but it must happen gradually. There is no way that a country – especially the size of Brazil – can completely stop consuming fossil fuels in a short period of time, but government actions can encourage industry, private sector companies and civil society to cooperate with this change.

But with proper planning, the results are far-reaching. Of course, the main effects are related to the environment, but the transition also presents some new opportunities – such as the increase of jobs and the social development of communities. In addition, cleaner and cheaper energy can reach countries that still face so-called “energy poverty”. With possible results in the economy, society and the well-being of populations, it can be said that the energy transition is in line with the ESG agenda – another fashionable topic in society. The adoption of biofuels also supports some of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) proposed by the United Nations. Goal number seven, for example, talks about ensuring reliable, sustainable, modern and affordable access to energy for all, while goal number thirteen is to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

the national scenario

“Brazil, on the one hand, needs to invest more in research and the population needs to be more aware of climate change to be able to seek public policies and make better consumption decisions. On the other hand, we have a lot of land and have more favorable natural conditions than most other countries. In this sense, we can use these lands for the production of biofuels and to replant carbon-storing forests”, Stephanie assesses. “The biggest challenge for the energy transition in Brazil is long-term environmental planning – which our country still lacks. Another big challenge is that we need a lot of investment in technical areas and also in raising the awareness of the population. These are investments that will pay off in the long run. Finally, another major challenge is the concentration of income. The people most affected by the climate crisis are usually not those with the greatest decision-making power and voice,” he adds.

Palm oil plantation in the northern region of the country

Palm oil plantation in the northern region of the country (Discovery/Brasil BioFuels)

what is done

In the face of climate change and the impacts that already exist, it is essential that this replacement of fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy takes place as soon as possible. In parallel, energy efficiency should be increased and efforts should be made to develop technologies that help in this transition.

In Brazil, several companies are already appearing with their activities in this direction. Currently, a large part of the population in the northern region of the country uses low-cost and completely clean electricity. Behind this reality lies the work of Brazil Biofuels (BBF), a Brazilian company operating in sustainable agribusiness from palm oil cultivation, trading, biofuel production and renewable energy generation. Since 2008, the year of its foundation, BBF has undertaken the mission of changing the energy matrix of Isolated Systems in Northern Brazil, creating jobs, generating income and even reducing the cost of electricity for northerners. The matrix, which has become sustainable and clean, replaces the use of fossil petroleum oil with biodiesel produced from palm oil – the company is even the largest producer of palm oil today in Latin America – and continues to expand your goals OK to contribute to the country’s energy transition with other business fronts.

BBF Group has a verticalized and integrated business model, consisting of three operational verticals: BBF Agro, Biofuels BBF It BBF Energy. In practice, it works as follows: the company plants palm oil in degraded areas of the Amazon, harvests and processes the fruit to extract the oil. From palm oil, it produces biodiesel and will also produce green diesel (HVO) and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), starting in 2025. With the biodiesel already produced, BBF generates renewable electricity for remote locations in the North region, replacing fossil fuels and decarbonizing the Amazon rainforest. Produced from palm oil to generate clean electricity, BBF biofuels are a sustainable option for fueling trucks, equipment and power generators. Thus, it directly fulfills the three pillars established from the beginning of the work: commitment to the preservation of the environment, income generation and socio-economic development – values ​​that, as mentioned above, go hand in hand in the energy transition.

The company has 38 power plants in the North region, with a generating capacity of 238 MW. There are 25 plants in operation – serving 140,000 customers – in addition to 13 being implemented. All plants run on renewable fuels, which are biofuels – biodiesel and vegetable oil – and biomass from palm oil. In this sense, it is important to highlight the sustainable and environmentally friendly character of the business model: BBF manages to extract more than 106.4 million liters of fossil oil every year from the Amazon, reducing the region’s carbon footprint by 90% (approx. 250 thousand tons of carbon equivalent). “The Amazon is intoxicated by the burning of oil used in transportation and in the production of electricity for isolated communities. BBF’s mission is to clean the lungs of the Amazon with clean, renewable energy,” says Milton Steagall, CEO of BBF Group.

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