In early 2019, renewables represent around 80% of the Brazil´s electricity supply matrix, one of the largest in the world.
Brazilian electricity generation is based on a large portfolio of hydropower plants (from small PCH to large plants), and more recently, with fast increase of wind, solar and biomass. Under the energy planning tradition for Brazilian policy makers, large water reservoirs were crucial for the long-term sustainability of its hydropower-based system.
Itaipu Dam, Brazilian largest hydropower plant (and world´s second after Chinese Three Gorges plant - CTG) have around 1.350 km sq of water reservoir, which means a production ratio of 10.4 MW /km². However, Itaipu water reservation is only the 7th largest in the country. Sobradinho Dawn, Brazilian´s largest water reservation, have more than 4214 km sq, an larger area than the ten largest cities in Germany combined (Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Dusseldorf, Dortmund, Essen, Leipzig and Bremen with around 4150 km sq). When Itaipu was built, back in 1984, it reallocated around 50.000 people, while Three Gorge, built in 2006, had to reallocate more than 1 million people on a similar area (1.084 km sq of water reservoir). For the future, large water reservoirs would be more and more difficult to build, which poses a challenge for future increase of large hydropower plants and keeping water reservoirs as an effective strategy for energy storage solutions in Brazil and over the world.
Furthermore, climate change has been already increasing average temperatures and affecting rain patterns in Brazil. Severe drowns (like Sao Paulo State´s 2015-2017 or the current situation of Northeast of Brazil) made the national system operated (ONS) to reduce hydropower plants operation in order to prioritize water for human use. And extreme weather events all over Brazil are signs that climate change will affect Brazil´s environment and energy sector even further, which is going to pose a an even stronger challenge for Brazilian hydro dependent grid. Furthermore, new hydro plants planned in the past to be build are mainly at the Amazon region, which poses also an environment challenge regarding the sustainability of hydropower expansion (or maintenance) in Brazil.
The Brazilian´s official Planning strategy for the Development of the Energy sector (PDE 2027) for the first time considers the challenges for hydropower and wind systems to deliver their full capacity. Historically, energy generation for some renewables like hydropower or wind have not performed 100% as planned, which made thermoelectric generation to be working all day, frequently, to back up the lack of performances. Therefore, adding batteries as a potential energy storage technology and peak hour reduction actions could be a great complementarity to the Brazilian grid. In addition, the 2019 Roraima State RFP to purchase new electricity for this Amazon State, an isolated system from the grid, for the first time in Brazilian history, created opportunities for hybrid solutions with renewable and ESS, in comparison to a long history of auctions focused only on diesel and natural gas generation only for isolated communities.
In February 2019, hydropower generation accounted for 63,5% of installed capacity while thermoelectric accounted for 25,9% (led by 9% of biomass, 8,1% natural gas, 5,5% oil, 2,2% coal and 1,2% nuclear) and followed by wind 9% and solar 1,6%. And Brazilian PDE 2027 forecast an increase to 86% renewables into the grid in 2027, with non-hydro solutions accounting for majority of this increase (moving from 22% in 2018 to 28% in 2027). New alternatives to the peak, including storage, energy efficiency and smart grid, as well as site generation could achieve as much as 6% market share in 2027. Last year data shows that solar and wind are the fastest growing sectors, with oil and coal reduced more than 12% in only one year. Independent forecast estimates solar would be Brazilian number one source in 2040 with around 32% share, followed by hydro plants with 29%, wind with 12%, flexible capacity 11%, biomass 9%, natural gas 5% and others 2% (Bloomberg New Energy Finance, 2016). [Fig. 1]
Brazil Energy Storage Potential
Considering Brazilian renewable energy portfolio, battery energy storage solutions (ESS) are a perfect, flexible asset, for Brazilian´s integrated energy grid. Brazilian energy generation have an unique situation as rains, biomass production and wind generation all have a seasonal electric generation, and this situation poses an even larger challenge for the grid. Besides that reality, Brazil also has many isolated systems at the Amazon region, which generates electricity for million in different states at the amazon region with diesel and natural gas (CNG) generators.
Historically, Brazilian energy demand has been increasing on an average of 4% year. Between 2011 and 2024, Brazilian electricity is supposed to grow from 115 GW of installed capacity to 206 GW. EPE´ PDE 2024 already forecasted that hydroelectric would be reduced from 72% in 2011 energy grid to around 57% in 2024, with other type of renewables like wind and solar growing from 12% in 2011 to 27% in 2024. PDE 2027 also confirmed those estimates and forecasted a very optimistic future for renewables in the energy matrix, however, Brazil still burns more than 4 billion liters of diesel every year for energy generation, and some studies estimate that 25% of energy generation during peak hours is also done by fossil fuel generation on site.
With these data in hand, Aneel (Brazilian Energy Agency) created a strategic R&D call back in 2016 to study and implement pilot ESS with energy utilities all over the country. The R&D Call 21 is suppose to invest more than R$ 500.000 million (US$ 125 million) between 23 approved projects to be delivered between 2017 and 2020.
Majority of the ESS projects approved were related to storage solutions for renewables (at hydroelectric plants, solar PV and wind), peak shaving, ancillary services (frequency regulation) or micro-grids. Large scale prjects or small batteries with distributed generations should be delivered all over the country to help Aneel to undertand the potential of ESS and propose a new regulation to allow ESS to deliver energy to the grid.
First projects delivered
Under the R&D strategic call 21, the first project connected to the grid was launched in late 2017 by energy utility CEMIG, in partnership with DG solar startup ALSOL. The project created a solar farm with 400 kW peak generation together with a LFP (Lithium Iron Phosphate) battery of 1.26 MVA and 1,36 MWh capacity from global supplier BYD (Build Your Dream). This pioneer system started operation in early 2019 with solar generation during the day to power the ESS, and during the peak hour, where there is no sun available in Brazil (6pm to 8pm), the ESS system sends energy back to the grid. Tests are been done to deliver 1 MW for one hour and half, 0,79 MW for two hours or 0,53W for three hours. Results from these tests should support Aneel to create new regulations for ESS in Brazil. [Fig. 2]
Electric Vehicles and ESS
ALDO SOLAR, a Brazilian company from Maringa, Parana State, was the first company to create a totally off-grid charging solution for Electric vehicles. Using six units BYD´s 13,9kWh B-Box, they installed a totally off-grid solution for EV charging. They also installed 30 units of B-Box units (total 414 kWh) for peak hour shaving at their headquarter, the first lithium based project in Brazil for peak shaving, back in early 2018. These projects became study cases and examples for the future.
Energy Utility CPFL (owned by Chinese State Grid) was the first utility to have electric vehicles been tested in Brazil under a R&D project called EMOTIVE. They purchase electric cars from different suppliers, including one electric vehicle called e6, from BYD, which have the capacity to send energy back to the grid. Vehicle to Grid (VTG) and VTL (Vehicle to Load) were also tested during the project between 2016 to 2018. With that project, Brazil´s first public charging infrastructure was created in the country, and different studies were done on charging patterns, VTV and VTL, grid preparation for future EV increase.
As EV and ESS becomes more important for Brazil, Aneel launched in 2019 a new strategic R&D call (Call 22) to study and foster solutions to explore the role of Electric Mobility in Brazil. CPFL and UNICAMP (Campinas State University) already launched their first projects to test electric buses. The buses would be supplied by BYD and charged off-grid with solar and ESS systems inside the university Campus. This pioneer project hopes to create new business cases to foster DG +ESS for electric vehicles.
Considering the renewable portfolio of Brazilian grid, the complementarity between biomass/ ethanol production, solar/wind and hydropower, Brazil could become one of the leading players in the new energy, low emissions mobility future. Although EV and ESS are only in their beginning in Brazil, these pioneers’ projects and the results from all R&D projects will help Aneel to create new regulations and bills to foster ESS in Brazil. [Fig. 3][Fig. 4]
Director of Marketing, Sustainability and New Business