Sun. Feb 23rd, 2020

Pigs, allies of renewable energy in Brazil

Pigs have become the last ally of renewable energies in Brazil, where there are more and more pig producers that produce biogas thanks to piglet droppings.

In the town of Sao Miguel do Iguaçu, in the interior of the state of Paraná (south), pigs were always a source of income for the Colombari family, but they have acquired a new value thanks to this gas produced by the decomposition of organic matter .

The excrement of the pigs became an environmental threat, especially for the rivers and reservoirs of the region, but the installation in 2006 of a biodigester – a kind of airtight container where waste is deposited – managed to transform this liability into an asset energetic.

In addition to reducing bad smell and pollution, the biodigester has allowed the farm, where more than 5,000 pigs are raised, to be able to stock up on the energy generated by the gas itself and produce a biofertilizer much more effective than natural fertilizer.

“Formerly the remains were deposited in open-air pools and that produced a very strong smell and attracted many flies. With the biodigester that has been reduced and now we have greater environmental and energy security,” explains Pedro Antonio Colombari, who at 28 It is one of the owner partners of this family farm.

The Colombari farm is also a pioneer in Brazil in the distributed generation of biogas thanks to a partnership with the Itaipu Technology Park, which allows to meet the energy demand of a small region with micro-networks for distribution of electric energy.

Pedro Antonio, he says, no longer conceives of his farm and pig farming without biogas, which has also become an opportunity for the town of Entre Rios do Oeste, one of the main regions producing pigs in Brazil.

The City Council of this small municipality where 4,600 inhabitants and 250,000 animals live decided to create a thermoelectric mini-power plant to supply 62 of the 71 public buildings in the town.

The town hall is responsible for buying the biogas produced by 18 pig farms in the region and it is transferred to the mini-plant through a network of gas pipelines.

“The gas produced in the properties is injected into the gas network. At the plant, the gas is used as fuel for power generation and the producer receives a credit for the gas injected into the network,” explains Luís Thiago Lucio , environmental engineer of the International Center for Renewable Energies (CIbiogas).

In the same region, Romário Schaefer, owner of a ceramic factory, found in the pigs an answer to his problems when in 2013 he was cornered by an energy crisis that began to make his production unsustainable due to the high prices of the electricity bill .

The businessman then invested in the purchase of 3,000 pigs for the generation of biogas, which has allowed him to increase the production and turnover of the factory and reduce his energy bill in half.


Biogas currently represents 0.1% of the country’s energy matrix in Brazil, although the expectation is that it can reach between 2 and 3% in the coming years, a rising market, according to Efe the director-president from CIBiogás, Rafael González.

“The growth of biogas is linked to that of the animal protein production sector itself,” which could advance between 10 and 12% in the coming years, according to González.

But in addition to business opportunities, biogas is also an ally of the environment.

According to Daiana Gotardo, environmental engineer and consultant at the UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization), with the installation of the biodigester it is possible to capture methane, a gas that is 21 times more polluting than CO2, and convert it into a energetic.

“When we convert it into energy we emit CO2 instead of methane and minimize the emission of greenhouse gases,” he emphasizes.

Alba Santandreu


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