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Solar Energy: Understanding The Growth Of The Renewable Energy Sector In Brazil

According to the Absolar (Associação Brasileira de Energia Solar Fotovoltaica), last year Brazil reached a record mark on the use of solar energy. In 2017, the capacity installed was about 1,160 gigawatts. Last year the number jumped to 11,000 gigawatts. The country is now part of the top countries with the biggest capacity of solar energy installed, placed in the position 14. The first country on this list is China and second the United States. 

This sector is definitely growing in Brazil and this year it tends to grow more. In spite of that, this type of source energy occupies only fifth place in the Brazilian power grid. The first one is hydraulic energy and even though it’s a renewable source, the water crisis is making the electricity bills higher. So if we install more solar energy, it’s possible to diversify the power grid and reduce the pressure over the hydroelectric energy. 

Investment 

A few years ago, it was harder to invest in solar energy because of its high cost. But today there is a different scenario with more suppliers and technology which turned it into a very competitive sector. Nowadays, a big solar power plant can generate energy at ten times lower prices compared to fossil thermoelectric plants or imported energy. Absolar’s report also mentioned that since 2012 photovoltaic energy has brought to Brazil over R$74,6 billions new investments and R$20,9 billions to the government. Besides, it has created 240.000 new jobs. 

Solar Energy at home 

Although there’s a clear growth in this sector by big industries, the greatest part of investors comes from residential consumers. About 40% of photovoltaic energy generated in Brazil are from residential systems, says a report from ANEEL (Agência Nacional de Energia Elétrica). It has become an option for many Brazilian citizens mostly during times of economic crisis like the one we’re living in. Due to the decrease in income, Brazilian people saw solar energy as another way to save money in the short and medium term. Still according to ANEEL’s report, about 90% of Brazilian cities count with at least one residency producing electricity through sunshine. During the last three years, the number of solar energy produced in residencies jumped to 8 times bigger. 

The investment in solar energy is not only important for social and economic development in Brazil, but also for its environmental benefits. Since it is a renewable power – which means it comes from natural sources – solar energy can be considered a cleaner type of energy. It can substitute the non-renewable (or “dirty”) sources, such as fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal) that are available in limited amounts and can be harmful for the environment. Fossil fuels pollute the air, the waters and nature itself, besides its contribution to global warming. Beyond that, dirty energy is found only in specific parts of the world which gives some nations advantages compared to others. But if we are talking about renewable energy, such as solar energy, we can agree that all countries have access to sunshine. 

In Brazil, hydraulic energy is still the most used. Although it’s a clean type of energy, building a hydroelectric plant (for example Itaipu, in Parana – Brazil) has many negative impacts for the environment, such as flood risk, prejudice for aquatic life, forest destruction and many others. So the transition to photovoltaic energy means it’s possible to minimize these risks. 

To sum up, the solar energy sector is growing very fast in Brazil which means the country is taking a step forward to helping the economy somehow, because it’s possible to reduce electricity bills and the pressure over hydropower plants. Also, it’s another step forward to helping the planet and nature by reducing air pollution, water usage, dependence on nonrenewable energy sources and helping climate change. 

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The article above was edited by Larissa Mariano.

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Beatriz Imagure

Casper Libero '24

I'm a journalism student at Cásper Líbero, music lover and feminist.
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