Brazil’s energy needs come mostly from Hydropower. Fossil fuels, together with oil and gas account only for 5 % of the energy mix. In terms of renewable energy, most of its electricity comes from hydroelectric dams. The landscape of renewable energy is not something new for Brazil however when it comes to wind and solar power it is pretty new. Not less than ten years ago, the importance of these energy sources to the country was negligible. But since the start of this decade wind power is booming and solar energy is starting to follow the same path.
Brazil Solar Resource
Situated mostly within the sunbelt, the Latin American countries possess great potential for solar energy applications. Brazil has one of the highest levels of insolation in the world. In Brazil, the Global tilt radiation ranges up to 8 kWh/m²/day. The tilt radiation is the total radiation received on the solar panel surface with a defined tilt. Figure 2 shows the average monthly global tilted irradiation at a fixed tilt angle with fixed latitude and longitude.
Solar Market Overview
Brazil has many ambitious renewable projects lined up. With enormous solar energy potential, the country is ready to take a leap in the renewable market. The government has been regulating policies to attract foreign investments in the country. Up to date, Brazil’s installed solar power generation capacity has hit 10 GW. Large-scale solar plants account for 3.5 GW and distributed plants have an installed capacity of 6.5 GW.
According to the Brazilian Photovoltaic Solar Energy Association (ABSOLAR) since 2012 10 billion USD /8.5 billion EUR has been invested in solar energy and this has created around 300,000 local jobs. The figure below indicates the evolution of solar photovoltaic energy in Brazil. During the past two years, the figure shows that the number of distributed generation systems grew significantly.
Despite the slowdown in the economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, solar energy has grown in Brazil. In the third quarter of 2020, the use of this source advanced 25% compared to the same period in 2019, according to data from the National Electric Energy Agency (ANEEL). Globally, IRENA predicts that solar energy will grow on average by 13% per year from 2020 to 2030. Brazil has the fifth greatest solar energy potential of all countries in the world, as it receives excellent levels of sunshine throughout the year, from less sunny areas in the South to the sunniest in the Northeast.
This quality generates a capacity factor of 19% to 24%, which is 2x higher than the average in Germany, one of the current world leaders in the use of photovoltaic energy. The Brazilian solar energy market is fragmented.
Recently, in October 2021 the Brazilian authorities have allocated 860 MW of power capacity in the country’s latest procurement exercise, including 20 solar projects. Solar accounted for 236.40 MW of the total across 20 projects. The solar projects contracted are mostly located in the north-eastern and south-eastern parts of Brazil, in the states of Ceara (96.24 MW), Piaui (60 MW) ,and Sao Paulo (80.16 MW).
Solar Energy Job Sector
Brazil is one of the largest job creators in renewable energy and the opportunities in the segment are increasing. According to Irena, the International Renewable Energy Agency, the country is only behind China in the number of jobs added. These include jobs related to biofuels, hydroelectric, wind, and solar energy, as well as biomass and biogas. solar, which accounts for less than 2% of the national grid energy, employs 43,000 people thanks to the renewable energy boom in the country.
Brazil’s Progress Toward its Climate Pledge
Brazil’s climate pledge makes it the first major developing country to put forward an absolute emissions reduction goal: a 37 percent cut in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 2005 levels by 2025. Brazil proposes to source 45 percent of the nation’s total energy mix from renewable resources by 2030, up from 41 percent in 2015. This would mark a major step for the growth of the solar and wind energy sector. It is predicted that solar energy will grow by 1GW every year till 2026. And according to some long-term projections the solar energy has the potential to respond to 32% of Brazil’s total capacity by 2040, which would make it the leading source of energy in Brazil ahead of hydropower.
It looks like Brazil has finally woken up to the plethora of potential that solar energy has to offer but nonetheless Brazil is still a latecomer to the renewable energy scene and has a long way to go in terms of its pledge in reducing its carbon emissions.