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Renewables are Looking Ever More Promising as Part of Brazil's Unique Energy Mix

                The right mix of renewables for any given country is all about leveraging a country’s strengths as well as developing the infrastructure capabilities that will lead to future prosperity. Industrialized nations the world over are placing several calculated bets from wind to solar to using algae as biodiesel fuel source. Fast developing nations like Brazil, who by their own right have become industrial powerhouses are placing many of the same bets with an eye towards their geographic and economic strengths. Where has been Brazil made effective bets and where are places the countries could make changes in? Brazil has made investments across several key areas including hydropower, solar and wind. The country also has abundant fossil fuel based sources that it has not shied away from.  

                In the country’s Ten Year Energy Plan 2026, priority is still being given to hydropower and fossil fuels.  Solar however could be emphasized more in Brazil’s energy mix. By 2026, renewable energy is forecasted to provide 160 GW of energy with solar accounting for just less than 10 GW of that allotment.  Brazil’s federal government has cited high initial implementation costs for taking a pass on large utility scale solar projects.  Tax relief to the tune of billions of dollars has also been provided to oil companies but such incentives are few and far between for renewable energy projects and associated companies. But though the federal government may not be prioritizing solar, there are encouraging signs of solar investment in the country. Given that Brazil has abundant sunshine in many regions, this should come as a sigh of relief for many. The largest solar energy farm in  Latin America opened in the state of Piauí built by Italian multinational Enel Green power.  The farm is known as the Nova Olinda farm and has 930,00 PV panels and an installed capacity of 292MW but that could be ratcheted up to 600MW. The installation has brought job training to the economically depressed region of Piauí as well as hope that what’s good for the economy can also be good for society and the environment. It also highlights the importance of energy diversification.

                Much of Brazil’s renewable energy mix is based on hydropower from damns in the Amazon. The overemphasis on that power source however became even more stark once the region was hit with droughts that reduced river levels in the Amazon. Brazil is blessed with abundant sunshine, fossil fuels, wind and many of the right elements to leverage new technology for a renewable energy future. With good governmental policies an investment climate to attract new cash flows, the country will find itself on the right side of world energy transformation as long as its government makes smart long term decisions.

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