Brazil under threat of new blackouts in the electricity sector


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Brazil under threat of new blackouts in the electricity sector

  1. 1. BRAZIL UNDER THREAT OF NEW BLACKOUTS IN THE ELECTRICITY SECTOR Fernando Alcoforado * The blackout in the Brazilian electric system last February 4 that prevented three transmission lines operating at the interface between the North and Southeast of the country proved to be more than an overload in the transmission of electricity but, above all, reducing the reserve margin between the defendant instantaneous load and generation capacity available. The need to adjust the load in 11 states and it took about two hours until the frequency of the interconnected system to be restored was due to the lack of generating capacity in the Southeast to meet the instantaneous demand. According to information supplied by the ONS (National Electric System Operator), on the lines that stopped operating this week was not enough to convey more energy capacity. The problem is that the third transmission line failed to send the energy of Tucuruí of 8,370 MW for the Southeast for overstepping its transmission capacity. The National System Operator (ONS) said the reservoirs of hydroelectric plants in the Northeast operate with 31.61 % of capacity, and in the North, with 41.24 %. To meet the demand for electricity, all the thermoelectric power plants are in operation. The hydroelectric reservoirs in the Southeast and Midwest are at the lowest level for the month of January since 2001, the last power rationing in the country. The current capacity stored in the lakes of the plants of the Southeast and Midwest is 28.9 %. The risk of energy deficits in Brazil in 2014 is around 20 %, a situation that extends far beyond the acceptable risk is 5 %. The low level of major hydroelectric reservoirs in the country is contributing to the Brazilian government to increase the production of thermal power plants of higher cost of generation. The possibility of rationing depends on the behavior of the rains, which are expected with more force until March. If this event does not occur, not even the new thermoelectric avoid blackouts in the Brazilian electrical system. The serious problem is that the additional cost with the use of thermoelectric further increase the cost of electricity in Brazil that currently has the fourth largest amount of electricity in the world. Successive blackouts in the Brazilian electric sector, 2001 to date show that their occurrence arises not only from the lack of rainfall that leads to reduced water level in the reservoirs of hydroelectric plants. One of the hallmarks of Brazilian governments since the early 1990s has been the incompetence in the conduct of destinations in Brazil. The electricity sector is an excellent example of the incompetence that dominates the current government. Mismanagement, delayed works and political use of state power companies explain why the threat of rationing is not cleared. Although the government deny the risk of a blackout, as the 2001, low reservoir levels became evident faults management and planning and the old practices of state-owned enterprises to use policies at all related to energy production purposes. The incompetence of the federal government in the operation of the electricity sector is characterized by failures in monitoring hydroelectric plant reservoirs whose levels fell below the level of safety and reached the lowest level in the last ten years, the mismanagement of the works because of the 38 thermal power plants auctioned between 2007 and 2009 that should be in operation, only 14 were opened and is estimated at more than 600 megawatts of total wind energy waiting for transmission lines, the political use of state power companies with the law that promises make way for a 20% 1
  2. 2. reduction in electricity tariff, a promise of Dilma Roussef electoral campaign, and the additional cost of power generation with thermal plants fueled by gas, diesel and sugar cane bagasse, and other fuels, accounting for almost 30 % the Brazilian energy matrix. The decision taken by the federal government in 2013 to reduce the electricity tariff which helped to encourage greater consumption of electricity and the rising cost of electricity supply with the use of thermal to avoid rationing will bring negative economic impacts on health of financial companies in the electrical sector considering that will lower revenue and increased costs resulting in cash flow problems. At first, the injury was covered enterprises with funds from the National Treasury. In 2014, electricity distributors may make a loss of $ 15 billion, according to calculations by Abradee (Brazilian Association of Electricity Distributors). This very high cost to the distributors will inevitably reach for the consumer if the corporate rate to the taxpayer or the National Treasury to cover the losses of companies. The opinion of many experts is that something needs to be done in the electricity sector in order to make it safer and less susceptible to the "domino effect". For Professor José Goldemberg, a leading authority on energy in Brazil, the solution is to decentralize and diversify the system. For him, the solutions are two: greater decentralization of the system and increase the redundancy of the protection system because in his view is missing a dual protection. Goldemberg further explains that examples of other countries that have managed to efficiently interconnect the power grid can be taken, as is the case of Spain that has decentralized energy sources. There are lots of uses wind energy, for example. And there are more than 10,000 energy sources across the country. Therefore, the vulnerability of the system decreases ( See Article Market Panel - Blackout posted on the site <,2931545/s etor-eletrico-preocupado.shtml>). When the system is interconnected by ring, like Brazil, there is great interdependence of regions. So when there is a fault, it can be felt in various other regions. In interconnected systems such as Brazil, it can take full advantage of the capacity of a hydroelectric plant. That's the good side. But the downside is that when a system fails, gives a burden on everyone else, causing the "domino effect". Thus receive smaller amounts of energy from various sources of low- power, ie, instead of creating large power plants as Itaipu, which generates most of the energy in the country, and in building the Belo Monte Amazon, better, safer and more effective would be to make small plants that supply little, but which together totaled many MW, supplementing the need of Brazilian consumption. To face the future "blackouts", the Brazilian government should also invest in building production lines and redundant systems, which function as a kind of "reservation" to the existing grid, especially in its most vulnerable areas. Operate the SIN (National Interconnected System) with maximum reliability and safety and lower cost is an increasing challenge in Brazil. Without the adoption of this set of solutions, we are threatened with new "blackouts". * Alcoforado, Fernando, engineer and doctor of Territorial Planning and Regional Development from the University of Barcelona, a university professor and consultant in strategic planning, business planning, regional planning and planning of energy systems, is the author of Globalização (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 1997), De Collor a FHC- O Brasil e a Nova (Des)ordem Mundial (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 1998), Um Projeto para o Brasil (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 2000), Os condicionantes do 2
  3. 3. desenvolvimento do Estado da Bahia (Tese de doutorado. Universidade de Barcelona,, 2003), Globalização e Desenvolvimento (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 2006), Bahia- Desenvolvimento do Século XVI ao Século XX e Objetivos Estratégicos na Era Contemporânea (EGBA, Salvador, 2008), The Necessary Conditions of the Economic and Social Development-The Case of the State of Bahia (VDM Verlag Dr. Muller Aktiengesellschaft & Co. KG, Saarbrücken, Germany, 2010), Aquecimento Global e Catástrofe Planetária (P&A Gráfica e Editora, Salvador, 2010), Amazônia Sustentável- Para o progresso do Brasil e combate ao aquecimento global (Viena- Editora e Gráfica, Santa Cruz do Rio Pardo, São Paulo, 2011) and Os Fatores Condicionantes do Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (Editora CRV, Curitiba, 2012), among others. 3