Energy frontiers in Scotland and Brazil

Demand for energy is forcing change globally and many organisations are involved in tackling the trilemma of security of supply, low cost and low carbon emissions.

The energy element of the research described here aimed at identifying challenges and opportunities created by these changes. From an energy perspective the focus was on the following: the impact of new local v large scale energy systems on work and rural jobs; the access to, use, and impact of water resources in energy production; and competition between energy and food production for available land.

Figure 3.1 Dairy farm taking a co-operative approach on the periphery of large scale sugar cane plantation; Quirinópolis, Goiás State.

In Brazil the research covered rural São Paulo and Goiás States and focussed on the energy frontier created by rapid growth in bio-ethanol production. The bio-ethanol production process and associated impacts were investigated through 3 targeted conferences plus visits to: a large scale distillery near Quírinopolis, Goiás state; a nearby displaced rural workers’ camp; and an adjacent small dairy co-operative. The issue of displaced rural workers was further investigated through visits to two agrarian reform settlements near Araraquara, São Paulo state and a camp near Pirenópolis, Goiás state.

Acampamento Dom Tomas Balduíno: Temporary landless workers’ camp near Pírinopolis, Goiás using diesel generators and bottled gas.

In Scotland the research involved two targeted conferences plus field trips to four rural communities at the energy frontier linked EU, UK and Scottish policy, regulations and incentives promoting new and renewable local energy technologies. These rural communities included the Island of Eigg, Findhorn, Fintry and Kinlochleven.

Scottish field research - Isle of Eigg - solar thermal, PV, and hydro.

The range of Brazil and Scottish locations and field trips at first glance appear to have little synergy but common themes were identified such as: the role of policy and regulation; local v large scale energy systems; and the sustainability and environmental impact of biofuels and biomass. Key characteristics identified through the fieldwork are summarised in the table below.


Policy and regulatory context

Brazil, US, EU policy drivers - sustainable transport, energy security?

Potential for "bio-ethanol sustainability"...

...but heterogenious and problematic - no rigerous quality system?

Policy and regulatory context

EU, UK, Scotland policy drivers for Climate Change and Carbon.

Scotland target 42% Carbon Emissions reduction by 2020, 80% by 2050.

Biofuels evaluation criteria includes indirect land use charge (iLUC) effect.

Biomass/CHP to be subsidised only if sustainability criteria met.

New UK Biomass/CHP Calculator: c.f fossil fuels including iLUC.

Large scale bioethanol (Cane, Cane + Corn)

Energy (and economic) balance? Inputs/outputs:

  • bagasse Combines Heat and Power option
  • bagasse Cellulosic option
  • fertilisers, pesticides, fungisides input, bi-products output

Carbon balance? (with indirect land use effects)

Waste streams and byproducts:

  • vinasse, chemical run-off, fertiliser, animal feed

Sustainability (soil, air, water, food, ecology, social, rural work)

Opportunity: Sustainability quantification, monitoring and QA?

Large Scale wind generation and smaller hydro pump storage

Around 35% of Scotlands electricity from renewables

Small farming communities and co-ops

Opportunity: local renewables: wind, PV, hydro, AD, bio, storage

Community scale local energy schemes incentivised

Local wind, PV, solar heat, biomass, heat pumps and energy efficiency

Local community ownership encouraged and supported

Displaced workers camps (temporary)

Local scale generation potentials, wind, PV, hydro, AD, bio, storage

Currently diesal generator. Opportunity: Portable renewables in a box?

Community owned Island schemes (e.g Eigg)

Community owned Eigg Electric company (6 part time jobs)

93% renewable electric network (wind, hydro, PV, storage), diesel backup

BUT Space and water heating, transport are from fossil fuels

Opportunity: Energy efficency + expand renewables to replace folssil fuel

Displaced rural workers settlements (permanenet)

Sustainability focus (soil, air, water, food, ecology, social, rural work)

Opportunity: local renewables: wind, PV, hydro, AD, bio, storage

Community owned rural schemes (Fintry, Findhorn, Kinlochleven)

Fintry: Wind, PV, AD/CHP, HP, Energy Efficeincy, Biomass, electric vehicles

Findhorn: Wind, PV, Solar, Energy Efficiency, HP Biomass, electric vehicles

Kinlochleven: Hydro

Grid connected with import and export pricing

Opportunity: Energy efficiency + expand renewables to replace fossil fuels

Figure 3.4 Brazil and Scotland Energy Frontiers - Key Characteristics and Opportunities