JBS generates energy from methane and reduces by 65% the direct CO2 emissions of Friboi
JBS, one of the world’s largest food companies, is installing biodigesters to provide a new outlet for the methane gas emitted in its industrial operations: the production of biogas, a renewable and clean energy source. The first phase of the initiative covers the nine Friboi units and reduces by 65% the business’s scope 1 emissions, representing a reduction of 24.6% in scope 1 emissions across all JBS activities in Brazil. With a R$ 54 million investment, this is the largest project of its kind in Brazil’s protein industry, reducing the environmental footprint of its production process.
The biodigesters will capture the methane gas emitted by the company’s operations and convert it to biogas, a clean fuel that has been making a name for itself within the context of the global energy transition to a low-carbon matrix. According to the principles of the circular economy, biogas has a triple application: steam production in the boilers at the units, replacing biomass; as a source of electricity generation; and as a fuel for the fleet of JBS Transportadora, replacing diesel, or in a hybrid system. These applications enable a reduction in scope 1 (direct) and scope 2 (referring to electricity use) emissions.
To begin with, the project will be up and running by mid-June 2023 at nine Friboi plants in the states of São Paulo, Mato Grosso do Sul, Mato Grosso, Goiás, Minas Gerais and Rondônia. The construction work at the units at Andradina (SP), which has had a biodigester system since 2021, Campo Grande I (MS), Lins (SP), Mozartlândia (GO) and Ituiutaba (MG) has been concluded. The others are in the final installation phase.
“In line with our circular economy actions, the biodigesters will reduce our methane emissions and initiate the production of clean and renewable energy. This project strengthens our view that agribusiness is part of the solution for addressing the challenges of climate change that the world is facing”, asserts corporate sustainability officer of JBS Brazil, Maurício Bauer. Currently, almost 90% of the company’s electricity matrix in Brazil is from renewable energy sources.
The investment in biogas projects in Brazil reflects the commitment by JBS to become Net Zero by 2040, in other words, to zero the net balance of the greenhouse gas emissions across the entire value chain, reducing direct and indirect emissions and offsetting residual emissions. At the global level, JBS has been engaging in methane capture in its operations for decades.
At present, 14 plants in the United States and Canada already have biodigester systems producing 190,000 m³/d of biogas. This clean energy fuels boilers and is used to produce electricity at the company’s units, in addition to being sold to gas companies. The projects in operation in the USA and Canada have reduced by 20% the external demand for natural gas, a fossil fuel, and have meant that JBS has ceased emitting 650,000 tons of greenhouse gases annually.
In North America, the company intends to expand the biogas production projects n those two countries and has plans to embark on new investments on this front in Mexico. Moreover, in partnership with the company Energy360, JBS is investing in biogas projects in Australia, with the potential to eliminate 60,000 tons of CO2 emissions, with annual savings of AUS$ 2 million in natural gas expenses.
“Our biogas investments clearly demonstrate our ambition to be an agent of transformation to the low-carbon economy in line with our Net Zero commitment”, points out Bauer.
Biogas in Brazil
Methane gas capture at the nine Friboi units will enable the production of approximately 80,000 cubic meters per day (m³/d) of biogas . This volume is sufficient to provide natural gas to more than 190,000 families with an average monthly consumption of 11,7 m³/mês (2021 data on domestic gas consumption in the state of de São Paulo). It can also fuel 31,000 vehicular natural gas (GNV)-powered cars that clock up around a thousand kilometers a month, or 300 GNV trucks that cover the daily equivalent of 100,000 kilometers.
Besides its use in the operations of JBS, biogas can also be sold to third parties, like state distributers of piped gas or to industries looking to manufacture products from natural gas in a more sustainable manner. Another possibility is the conversion of the energy into biomethane for use as fuel in GNV-powered vehicles. A third alternative under evaluation is to use biogas as a source for distributed electricity generation projects to supply the Group’s facilities.
With this new approach, JBS is expanding its efforts to reduce the impacts of methane emissions on its business. Another initiative along these lines is the partnership with the Animal Husbandry Institute of the São Paulo State Department of agriculture to develop food additives for the beef cattle chain.
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