Brazil's economic expansion over the past few years has been impressive. in 2010 91 million Brazilians, nearly half the population, are now are part of the middle class. In 2003, the Brazilian middle class totalled 64.1 million people (37% population). Over the next few years Brazil will be getting even more international attention because Brazil will be hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the summer Olympics in 2016.
Electric Power Industry in Brazil
One of the most important infrastructure sectors that has enabled Brazil's very rapid economic development is electric power. Among major industrial powers, Brazil is unique in that most of its electric power generation is from clean energy sources. 72% of Brazil's electric energy capacity (74GW) is hydroelectric generation. A by-product of the production process of the world’s most successful alternative fuel, sugar cane ethanol, contributes 3% of Brazil’s electric power generation. Over 25% of Brazil's electric power comes from one hydroelectric plant, the 14 GW Itaipu dam, located between Brazil and Paraguay on the Paraná River. Additional very large hydroelectric power projects are underway for a total additional potential capacity of 31 GW. The largest is the 11 GW Belo Monte Dam in the state of Pará.
The national regulator is ANEEL, which is responsible for regulating generation, transmission and distribution of power. ONS is the national electric system operator and is responsible to ANEEL. Something like 98% of the Brazilian electric power system is part of a single grid, the National Interconnected System (SIN).
There are 49 utilities with distribution networks, and about 64% of of the distribution network is controlled by private sector companies. About 10 % of generation is private including foreign owned capacity. For example, Duke Energy has about 1.5 GW of generation capacity in Brazil Transmission is mostly public.
Challenges Facing the Electric Power Industry in Brazil
Yesterday I had a chance to spend some time at ANEEL and was able to get a feel for some of the challenges facing the Brazilian power industry.
Rapidly Increasing demand - Electric power demand has been increasing in Brazil at a rate above the average world rate. Between 1980 and 2000, Brazil's electricity demand increased on average by 5.4 % per year.
Nontechnical losses - It has been estimated that up to 30-40% of Brazil's electric power consumption is ascribable to what is termed nontechnical losses. This challenge is motivating the beginning of intelligent network capability. A project is underway by Ampla, the power utility of the State of Rio de Janeiro reponsible for power outside of the the city of Rio de Janeiro to install monitoring capacity to attempt to identify and control nontechnical losses.
Manpower shortage - Similarly to North America and Western Europe, the Brazilian electric power industry is facing a manpower shortage but in Brazil the problem is exacerbated by the rate of economic expansion. Utilities are finding it difficult to find and attract younger workers and to retain them.
Asset record data quality - Data quality of asset records is a major problem in Brazil as it is in North America. It is generally accepted that the smart grid will require much higher data quality than is currently the case for most utilities' asset databases and smart grid initiatives, which are in the planning stage or underway in most utilities in North America, are motivating a focus on improving the data quality of asset records. In Brazil one of the major initiatives instituted by ANEEL is targeted on improving the quality of asset records.