Thermoelectric power generation in Brazil has nearly doubled in one year, from 7,881 MWa to 14,279 MWa of total electrical load, according to the latest available data from the national grid operator ONS compiled by BNamericas.
Last Thursday, the share of thermoelectric power in the country’s electrical load (69,572 MWa), including Angra 1 and 2 nuclear power plants, reached 20.5%, up from 13.8% a year earlier .
The increase in thermal energy consumption reflects the severe drought that Brazil has experienced in recent months, with rainfall at the lowest in over 90 years in areas of some of its major hydroelectric reservoirs. According to local experts, the risk of energy rationing is a reality.
The situation of hydroelectric reservoirs is most critical in the south-east / center-west subsystem, where the energy storage level (EAR) is 32.2%.
Given the alarming scenario, the authorities were forced to send in more thermoelectric power, which is more expensive.
As a result, electricity watchdog Aneel announced the Red Flag (Tier 2) tariff system for June on Friday, with a cost of 6.243 reais (US $ 1.19) per 100 kWh.
“June begins with the main reservoirs of the SIN [national interconnected system] at lower levels for this time of year, which suggests a horizon of reduced hydroelectric production and increased thermoelectric production. This situation puts pressure on the costs linked to the hydrological risk (GSF) and on the price of energy on the short-term market (PLD) ”, declared the regulator in a press release.
On May 27, hydropower generation accounted for 66.1% (45,969 MWa) of Brazil’s total electrical load, down 16.8 percentage points from the previous year.
On the other hand, the share of wind power has increased considerably over the past year, reaching 12.2% of the national load (8,453 MWa) last Thursday, against 2.38% (1,360 MW) on May 27. 2020.
“Wind energy is of particular importance because it is complementary to hydroelectric energy, because the least rainy period of the year is the period of the best winds, which allows reservoirs to be preserved when they are most. necessary, ”Elbia Gannoum, CEO of local wind power association Abeeólica, told BNamericas.
“Since 2013, wind power has enabled the northeast system to become yet another energy exporter during the season of stronger winds and, on record days, wind power already accounts for 17% of INS consumption.
Paulo Arbex, president of the Brazilian association of small hydropower plants Abrapch, told BNamericas that it was a “self-imposed” crisis, because Brazil, which accounts for 12% of the world’s fresh water. , stopped building hydroelectric power stations with reservoirs in the 1990s.
“There is only one solution to the water crisis: Brazil must start again to build small and large hydroelectric plants with reservoirs,” he said, stressing that the cost of energy thermoelectric is up to 10 times that of hydropower plants.
Larissa Rodrigues, project and product manager at the Brazilian sustainability-focused nonprofit Instituto Escolhas, told BNamericas that Brazil must prioritize wind, solar and biomass power plants, while improving management water tanks.
“The increase in the use of thermoelectric power stations, as foreseen in [state holding] The privatization of Eletrobras… will only make electricity bills more expensive for consumers, ”she said.
Rodrigues pointed out that the environmental costs of thermal power plants reduce their profitability. “When gas emissions and water consumption are taken into account, there is no return on investment for the investor. The consumer will therefore pay twice, given the climate issue.
According to the ONS, 91 thermoelectric power stations produced electricity on May 27. The top 10 were PQU SPSP TERM (1,298.44 MWa), Angra 2 (1,214.64 MWa), Norte Fluminense (823.98 MWa), Angra 1 (647.38 MWa), Termopernambuco (525.91 MWa) , B. Fluminense (523.38MWa), TermoRio (433.84MWa), UTE Mauá 3 (368.37MWa), PQU MGMG TERM (346.08MWa) and UTE Pampa Sul (344.83MWa).
Another 100 thermoelectric plants were out of service on the same day.
And 104 thermoelectric plants totaling 8 GW of capacity are expected to come into operation in the coming years, mainly in the northern and southeastern regions. On this list are Marlim Azul (566MW), belonging to a consortium formed by Pátria Investimentos, Shell and Mitsubishi Hitachi, and the GNA I (1.3 GW) and GNA II (1.6 GW) of Gás Natural Açu in the port d’Açu, both in Rio de Janeiro. State.
GROWTH IN DEMAND
Meanwhile, the ONS projects a 6.6% increase in the national electricity load in June compared to the previous year, due to expectations of economic growth for the remainder of the year, the manager said. network in a statement.
The load forecast indicates that the northern region is expected to increase by 8.8% to 5,852 MWa. Next comes the northeast, with an increase of 7.7% to 10,617 MWa, followed by the southeast / center-west, with 6.3% to 38,005 MWa. The south is expected to experience 5.7% higher consumption at 11,317MWa.
By the end of June, the volume of reservoirs is expected to reach 83.3% of capacity in the north; 69.8% in the south; 54.2% in the northeast; and 28.8% in the south-east / center-west, according to the ONS.