Wind power and solar energy gain ground to hydroelectric plants in Brazil

The expansion of wind energy and photovoltaic solar power plants in Brazil is about to overtake hydroelectric plants as the main energy matrix in the country. According to the Ten-Year Energy Plan, which sets the guidelines for the expansion of the electricity sector in the country until 2027, hydroelectric plants, which in 2018 represented 64 percent of the Brazilian energy matrix, will go on to answer for only 51 percent in the period, while alternative sources, mainly wind power and solar, should jump from the current 22 percent to 28 percent.

In the 1980s and 1990s, hydroelectric plants accounted for about 80 percent of the Brazilian energy matrix. If before the energy needed water in the reservoirs, now it depends on the wind and the sun, which have great oscillations during the day.

Due to this, the National Electric System Operator (ONS), the body that manages the activation of the generation plants and the use of the transmission lines to guarantee the electricity supply in the country, has designed an application that uses the data of wind forecasts provided by specialized institutions to project the generation of wind power plants.

In addition, the ONS is finalizing another application to have the forecast on the production in the solar parks, increasingly present in the country, and which must become operational within two years.

“There is an increase in volatility. It is a huge change in relation to the past, when the energy matrix was basically hydrothermal,” explained ONS Director General Luiz Eduardo Barata.

According to Barata, with the two applications, “we will know in advance more or less what actions have to be taken in the system, in order to compensate for the variation of wind and solar generation.”

Brazil could be considered privileged because it is fortunate to have a lot of sun and wind in its territory, which makes it easier than in other countries to develop an energy matrix with renewable sources.

Despite this, in order to guarantee the maintenance and reliability of the system in the medium and long term, mainly in times of high demand, the country also continues to use gas, carbon and oil.

“Brazil has a good problem, which is to have a very large set of options. Over the next few years or decades, the country will have to make its choices. It is a search that everyone is doing today in the world’s energy markets. , no country has an answer on how to do this, it is a work in progress, “Barata said.

As renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power plants and gas thermal plants gain space, hydroelectric plants will change their function. Currently they keep the water from the rainy season, from November to April, and then slowly empty it in the dry period.

“In about 15 years, we will no longer have a regime like the current one. The reservoirs will start to operate stable, because there will be gas and solar and wind energy as complementary,” said the ONS director general .

The entry of renewable energy sources in the Brazilian energy matrix will also mean a decrease in rates for consumers. Currently, wind power plants add up to 15 gigawatts (GW) in operation in the country, while solar plants have 2 GW, per 100 GW of hydroelectric plants.

The government plan until 2027 foresees that wind power plants will earn an additional 10 GW and 5 GW more, while larger hydroelectric plants will be able to grow a little more than 1 GW.