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Acelen Renewables gathers strategic partners for energy-transition project in Brazil

Polman, left, and de Mendonça at a COP28 event hosted by Acelen Renewables (Photo: Acelen Renewables)

Acelen Renewables hosted an event Dec. 7 at the Museum of the Future in Dubai, aiming to globally present its pioneering project that will propel Brazil a step forward in the global energy transition.


Newly created and announced during COP28, the company enters the market with investments exceeding USD$2.5 billion.


The primary focus will be on the production of renewable fuels such as sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and renewable diesel derived from the macaúba—a native Brazilian plant with high energy potential.


The company is a subsidiary of Acelen and is sponsored by Mubadala Capital, a global asset-management company.


Acelen Renewables seized the importance of COP28 to promote the signing of several contracts with strategic partners.


On this occasion, several partnerships were established, including with Honeywell, which will be the technology licensor and supplier of advanced engineering for the Ecofining™ unit for the production of renewable fuels; with Alfa Laval, responsible for developing and implementing the vegetable-oil refining solution; and with Afry, the selected company to carry out the basic engineering of the unit and provide consulting services to obtain the necessary environmental-alteration license (LA) for the project.


At the event, global authorities and leaders had the opportunity to closely explore Acelen Renewables’ key initiatives towards the energy transition.


Among the guests were Saled Alsuwaidi, ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Brazil; Oscar Fahlgren, chief investment officer of Mubadala Capital and head of Mubadala Capital in Brazil; Arthur Lira, president of the Chamber of Deputies; Pietro Mendes, national secretary of oil, natural gas and biofuels for Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy; Mauro Mendes, governor of Mato Grosso; Eduardo Sodré, secretary of the environment for Bahia; and vice governor of Minas Gerais, Mateus Simões.


To underscore the discussion on the future of the energy transition, the company invited renowned author Paul Polman, an international reference in sustainability in business, to deliver a lecture during the event.


Polman was one of the key figures in developing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and currently collaborates with various companies to accelerate actions addressing climate change and inequality.


Throughout the ceremony, Acelen Renewables reiterated its commitment to supporting the planet in significantly reducing its CO2 emissions, integrating and supporting social and environmental development.


“Alongside industry partners and players, the event marks a very important day for our company and for all those, like us, committed to developing actions that contribute to a greener future,” said Luiz de Mendonça, the company’s CEO. “We will produce in Brazil the fuel of the future, in a ‘fully sustainable’ project—economically, socially and environmentally. Very pleased to say that Acelen Renewables is already part of the seed of the future.”


The phrase, “The society of the future is cooperative, and the future of power is to serve,” marked Paul Polman’s presence at the event, emphasizing that Brazil already has much to be proud of, with 92 percent of its energy coming from green-energy sources, the largest share in the G20.


“In 2022, the renewable energy sector employed 1.4 million people in Brazil, the largest in Latin America,” Polman said. “Brazil continues to play a crucial role in biofuel technology as well, leading the way for over five decades and becoming the world’s second-largest biofuel producer.”


Polman emphasized that for the planet to stay within the 1.5-degree limit, it is necessary to urgently reduce and eliminate the use of fossil fuels.


“The magnitude of the crisis we face requires companies from all sectors to reconsider their business models, something challenging for corporations and countries,” he said. “However, after meeting Acelen’s innovation team, I can say that my hope is confirmed. We have in our hands, with the macaúba plant, a rapid potential for the well-being of the planet.”


Throughout the project the expectation is to stimulate an economic impact of over USD$17 billion, generate more than 90,000 direct and indirect job opportunities and reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80 percent compared to fossil fuels.


Peter Eisner, director of the German Fraunhofer Institute, explained that family farming in Brazil based on macaúba can become a source of the country’s growth, especially if local communities and native peoples are considered.


“It is very important to show that by investing in natural capital for energy transition, Brazil can grow faster and lift more people out of poverty more quickly,” Eisner said. “And that is possible. Deforestation has decreased in a relatively short period. It’s an economy that, with natural capital for energy transition, is becoming healthier, growing more than the rest of Latin America. And this project presented by Acelen values biodiversity, restores nature and creates an economy around what is sustainable. We need more projects like these.”


Project advances in Bahia, Minas Gerais

During COP28, the company pledged to building the biorefinery in Bahia, Brazil, and to collaborate on establishing an innovation hub in the state, engaging local research institutions and universities.


Thus, Acelen Renewables will work on the development of macaúba in Bahia and the revitalization of oil-palm cultivation.


The location will be crucial for technological development and the training of small farmers in Bahia, with partnerships focused on family-farming programs.


Another important aspect is that the company will support the government of Bahia in mapping and identifying suitable areas for macaúba cultivation, with an emphasis on structuring agreements for the implementation of agro-industrial hubs in the region.


With the government of Minas Gerais, Acelen Renewables also announced the start of implementing a Center for Innovation and Agro-Industrial Technology (CITA), located in the city of Montes Claros.


The center will be a space for research, improvement and development of macaúba.


Consequently, the company will produce high-quality macaúba seeds and seedlings, enhancing the importance of the native plant in the energy-transition process.


“The research and development of this macaúba-seedling micro-propagation protocol are unprecedented worldwide and represent a significant step for the production of a promising crop,” emphasized de Mendonça.


Macaúba is a Brazilian plant with high oil productivity per hectare and is highly competitive compared to other crops.


It offers greater efficiency in water and nutrient use.


As a native perennial species, it enables a range of environmental services such as conservation or even biodiversity recovery, as degraded areas are replaced by macaúba-forest systems.


This allows for vegetation cover, conserving soil and its biota, contributing to water-resource recovery, and serving as a food source for native birds and other animals.


Its cultivation will follow the best agricultural and environmental practices, promoting carbon capture and reducing CO2 emissions from seed to fuel.


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