São Martinho, one of the world's prominent sugarcane energy companies, has unveiled its groundbreaking plan to establish its first-ever biomethane plant. This pioneering facility will utilize anaerobic digestion of vinasse, a byproduct from ethanol production, to process all the vinasse generated at the Santa Cruz unit in Américo Brasiliense, São Paulo.
The outcome? Approximately 15 million cubic meters of biomethane per harvest, with the potential to mitigate the release of up to 32,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases. To put this into perspective, this is equivalent to 91,000 truck journeys between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro each year or 250 trips daily.
The venture, with an approximate investment of R$250 million (€47.4 million), is set to kick off operations in the latter half of 2025. It represents a significant component of São Martinho's comprehensive strategy to fully harness the potential of biomethane generation from vinasse. The first phase, initiated at the Santa Cruz unit, constitutes 20% of this overarching ambition, leaving the remaining 80% under evaluation. This evaluation takes into account the competitive advantages and unique attributes of its other three units: São Martinho and Iracema in the interior of São Paulo, and Boa Vista in the interior of Goiás, as announced by the company.
Fabio Venturelli, the President of São Martinho, expressed his perspective on this milestone, stating, “The Santa Cruz biomethane plant marks São Martinho's entry into the renewable natural gas market and strengthens our commitment to effectively contribute to the energy transition towards a low-carbon economy.
This new venture aligns with our strategic plan, enabling us to increase profitability per cultivated hectare, generating more value for our shareholders while ensuring the production of low-cost renewable carbon. The biomethane production begins with 20% of our potential, connected to the distribution system via pipelines and capable of providing a renewable alternative to a region with high fossil fuel consumption.”
São Martinho's foray into the renewable energy market with its innovative biomethane plant marks a significant step toward a more sustainable future and underscores the company's dedication to reducing its carbon footprint.