Using only 11% of their installed capacity, Brazilian sugarcane mills are the fourth most important electricity suppliers source in Brazil’s electricity mix. Experts estimate that with full use of sugarcane residues, bioelectricity could reach 148,000 GWh. That would be enough energy to power a country the size of Argentina or Norway.

As it grows, the sugarcane plant converts sunlight into stored chemical energy. Every part of the plant can be used in different processes, but there are three main components that contain this stored energy:

  • Juice | The sweet liquid inside the sugarcane stalk contains sucrose, which is used
    to produce sugar and ethanol.
  • Bagasse | The dry, fibrous residue left after sugarcane is crushed. One ton of c
    ane produces about 250 kilos of bagasse (50% moisture)*. Source: CTC (2015).
  • Straw | The tops and leaves of sugarcane stalks.

Brazilian sugarcane mills learned to harness the energy stored in bagasse by burning it in boilers to produce bioelectricity. As a result, these mills are energy self-sufficient, producing more than enough electricity to cover their own needs. A growing number of mills also generate surplus energy, which is supplied to Brazil’s National Interconnected System (SIN, acronym in portuguese) and helps to light numerous cities throughout Brazil. In 2019, sugarcane mills supplied more than 22,500 GWh, or 5% of Brazil’s electricity requirements, thanks to sugarcane bioelectricity.

The straw can be burned alongside bagasse in high-efficiency boilers to produce even more bioelectricity.


Sugarcane Bioelectricity


Sugarcane Green Energy Seal

The Bioelectricity Certification Program is the first Brazilian initiative focused on sugarcane-based electricity. It aims to promote and amplify bioelectricity participation in Brazil’s electricity matrix.

Created in 2015, the program was supported by the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) in partnership with Electric Energy Trading Chamber (CCEE, acronym in portuguese) and is endorsed by Brazilian Energy Traders Association (ABRACEEL, acronym in portuguese).

The program is based on the Green Energy Seal, that can be required and granted to electric energy sales agents in any Brazilian State, as long as they acquire renewable energy from certified mills and meet the criteria established by General Program Guidelines. As well as this, the Green Energy Certification is granted to the sugarcane mills which produce bioelectricity and meet energy efficiency requirements.


  • Low environmental impact
  • Producers can obtain carbon credits
  • Complementary to other electricity sources
  • Reduces energy transport loss
  • Generated closer to consumers, avoiding the need of investment in transmission centers
  • Reduces GHG emissions
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