Earlier this week, we met with the Sub secretary of Renewable Energy in Sao Paulo and visited a landfill, both of which were eventful and educational. Dr. Milton Flavio Marques Laughtenschlager spoke to us of numerous renewable energy movements that the state of Sao Paulo, including the effort to make sure that 69 percent of Sao Paulo’s energy will be generated from renewable sources, and carbon emissions will be reduced by 20 percent, by the year 2020. Currently, 55 percent of Sao Paulo’s energy comes from renewable energy sources, in comparison to 45 percent for the rest of Brazil. In this manner, Sao Paulo will continue to lead the remainder of the country in environmental conservation and alternative energy, living up to its epithet, “the locomotive of Brazil.” To reach this feat, Dr. Laughtenschlager said that Sao Paulo will have to bank on biofuels, solar, and wind power. We have already been well informed that Brazil is a global giant in the field of ethanol production from sugar cane, which subsequently fuels the flex fuel industry. Meanwhile, we have also been studying the rise of the wind and solar industries in Brazil and the investments being put in their efficiency research. The one aspect I was disappointed with the Sub secretary’s lack of faith in the hydroelectric industry. He said that Sao Paulo has reached its capacity for hydroelectric power, despite the fact that Brazil is undertaking one of the world’s largest public works projects, one that will cost more than $150 billion dollars, in the Jirau Dam which is expected to supply a good amount of power to Sao Paulo. Nevertheless, he seems very optimistic about the future of Sao Paulo’s alternative energy programs.
Then on Thursday, we visited the Sao Joao Landfill, where it was cold and smelly. We attended a lecture and walked around the site learning about how it is set up and about how it works. The trash is processed and layered in the landfill and there is a synthetic lining on the base that prevents many of the toxins from going into the ground and destroying the underground biodiversity and vegetation. Surprisingly, it took 2 years of trash accumulation before it could be used for energy accumulation. And we also learned that the company actually loses money on cold days, such as the day we went, because they need more power to run the plant than they generate. Thus, it would be inefficient for it to be implemented in countries with a colder climate, such as the United States, but it seems to work well in warmer climates as in Brazil.