ATICA: Affiliated Timber Investment Conversion Advisors, Inc.

Dr. Laercio Couto

Speech at World Bioenergy 2010

Laercio Couto Ladies and gentlemen. Good Morning. Welcome to the World Bioenergy 2010. I have two news for you. A bad news and a good news.

The bad news is that I am not a good speaker, in fact I am a terrible speaker. The good news is that I have only 15 minutes to make my speech and I have only 15 minutes to do it. And I promise to you I will not talk more than I am allowed.

I do not need to tell you how happy and honoured I am to be the one chosen by the committee of this event to represent the world community of professors, researchers and businessmen that work hard every day trying to solve the problems related to the use of biomass for energy in our incredible planet Earth.

This spaceship which navigates in the Universe and where God put all of us together.

If you allow me, I will lend some words of John Lennon's song IMAGINE to say to all of you: You may say I am a WINNER. But I am not the ONLY ONE.

In fact, the winner of this AWARD is the world bionergy community which is able to have meetings such this one and to allow us to come here to exchange what we know and what we have learned all over the years.

This FANTASTIC interaction allowed by the World Bioenergy event which occurs every two years here in the country of the great warriors, the Vickings, promotes a very strong sinergy with a strong multiplier effect on the actual scientific and technological bases of the use of biomass for energy.

I always admired the guy that carries the flag in the openning parade ceremony of the Olympic games. I always dreamed about being one of those guys.

Today, my dream became reality because I feel not like a winner of the AWARD, but as the guy with the flag of the world bionergy community, leading them to a common objective which is the use of sustainable biomass as one of the the major sources of energy for the needs of mankind.

Now, talking a little bit about my research work in this area I have to confess that it is a very simple one. It started in 1975 at the Federal University of Viçosa, when in my Master program with Professor Renato Mauro Brandi. I studied the effect of the initial spacing on the growth and yield of eucalypt plantations in Brazil.

Later, in 1977, in my Ph.D. training at the University of Toronto, I was introduced to the world of the nature and uses of the timber production function by Professor Jagdish Chandra Nautiyal. My case study with eucalypts in Brazil helped me to continue my work with these fast growing trees which were introduced for energy in Brazil by Edmundo Navarro de Andrade in 1904.

In 1993, in a Post Doctorate study at Colorado State University I had the opportunity to work with Professor David Betters and Mrs Lynn Wright of Oak Ridge National Lab and with them I learned about short rotation wood crops for energy.

The increasing demand for biomass for energy in the last years, mainly in Europe allied to some existing opportunities in Brazil led me to try a short term solution to supply the needed biomass for the domestic market and for export.

The increasing price of land, the need to supply the demand for biomass of the sugar cane bagasse electriticy generation facilities, the increasing demand for biomass by the soybean and other grain producer companies and the necessity to reduce deforestation of the Amazon and the Savanna and Caatinga regions, estimulated our research work.

A possible solution was the use of dense clonal eucalypt plantations to produce biomass for energy in a short rotation of 1 to 2 years instead of the actual and traditional 5 to 7 years. This was a Ph.D. thesis of my former graduate student Marcelo Dias Müller that I advised from 2002 to 2005 at the Federal University of Viçosa.

In fact, this was just a initial spacing study or in the language of the timber production function, the use of different growing stocks in our eucalypt timber production function. A production function that has also moisture, solar radiation, nutrients as other factors of production on it.

When we started that research we had to review all previous work done by several scientist all over the world such as Lynn Wright and Tim Volk in USA, Ian in New Zealand and the staff of some forest companies which deals with willows in England and Sweden.

Therefore, what I want to make very clear here is that no scientist or businessman can be an island or a lonelly wolf. The secret of success is TEAM WORK. In Brazil I did not and I do not work alone, I have a research team and friends from several Universities which work with me in their specific areas within our project such as Professor Angélica Cássia who is here among us today.

Each researcher in the bioenergy area in the world is contributing with his specific work which, for me, represents a brick that he is adding to build the magnificent temple of the use of biomass for energy by mankind.

That is the way we should feel and act. A world community, a TEAM, fighting for a common objective.

Now I want to thank the organizers of this meeting for giving me this award and to congratulate them for the fantastic work they have been doing for the World Bioenergy 2010.

I also want to share this AWARD with my wife who is here and who has given me an extraordinary support during all my life as a professor and a researcher.

I also want to dedicate it to my team of RENABIO and all my friends and suppporter companies in Brazil and to my former advisors and professors and my colleagues of Task 30 of IEA Bioenergy in special, Ian from New Zealand and Theo and Göran from Sweden.

Finally, with all my respects to His Magesty King Carl Gustaf I would like also to dedicate this victory to one of the most important and very much admired and loved Brazilian descendent, Her Magesty Queen Silvia of the Royal Family of Sweden.

Thank you very much for your kind attention and enjoy the meeting and your staying in Jönköping.

Couto Signature

Laércio Couto
May 25, 2010
Jönköping - Sweden