Digital platform allows users to simulate future Brazilian electric matrix

The aim is to promote contemplation about energy sources and their impact on the economy, the environment, and the lives of Brazilians

The Escolhas Institute has launched the platform #Quantoé? Gerar Energia (Generating electricity: what is the cost?) which aims to make society think about the various energy sources in which Brazil must invest to meet the demand for electricity by 2025. According to official forecasts, Brazil will need an increase of 200 Terawatt Hours (TWh), almost one-third more than the current demand. With this simple and easy-to-use platform, anyone can simulate combinations with up to seven energy sources, thereby verifying the investment needed to meet this demand, the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated, and the impact on their monthly electricity bill.

More information at http://quantoeenergia.escolhas.org.

The platform uses reliably-sourced official data on electricity generated by power plants: hydroelectric; wind; solar photovoltaic; thermal biomass, thermal natural gas; thermal coal and nuclear. Each choice selected, comprising a percentage of that source’s share in the Brazilian energy matrix, changes the national scenario. For example, if a user wants Brazil to invest 40% in hydroelectric plants, and 20% in photovoltaic solar energy, wind energy and biomass thermal, this would require an investment of R$ 994 billion. The consumer would pay R$ 165.60/MWh (Reals per Megawatt Hour) – considering the Metropolitan Region of São Paulo. Currently, this value is 224.02 R$/MWh. In this projection, Brazil would have a 100% clean matrix for GHG emissions, since all energy would come from renewable sources.

“We should not think of it as a cost, but as a long-term investment. We want to draw the attention of consumers and government to the benefits of a clean and renewable energy matrix, such as the generation of jobs and the improvement of the economy”, says Sérgio Leitão, Director of Relations with the Society of the Escolhas Institute. “Furthermore, we hope that by knowing how their choices may affect the price of energy charged to their electricity bill, consumers will understand and exercise their power of control over something that, otherwise, seems so remote and costs billions”, he said.

To reach these conclusions, the Escolhas Institute considered the investment for the construction, operation, and maintenance of a new plant of the size necessary for each source. Believing that decision-making should not be limited to financial concerns, the organization calculated the greenhouse gas emissions from each source and added what would be the tax on those emissions, discouraging the use of fossil fuel sources because of its impacts on the climate. For the electricity bill data, the Kilowatt Hour (kWh) cost of each source was compared to the energy tariff of the utility that supplies power in the region where the user lives.

“Whatever the decision of Brazil, planning and information that qualifies the debate is crucial. The platform is an important educational tool for getting people to think. By using it, the user can also understand why some sources are more expensive and polluting than others”, adds Leitão.

An example of the relationship between planning and climate change can be taken from two recent major electrical crises in Brazil (2001 and 2015); consequences of a lack of rainfall allied to a lack of planning. Moreover, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), electricity and heat generation accounted for approximately 25% of global emissions in 2010. In Brazil, this scenario accounted for 7% of emissions in 2014.

Energy Generation in Brazil

Currently, the Brazilian electricity matrix is essentially hydroelectric, but the option for renewable sources can have positive net economic impacts on the economy in the medium and long term. Between 2011 and 2014, for example, the domestic electricity supply in Brazil increased by 11%, but there was a 12.8% reduction in the share of hydroelectricity. This data reinforces Brazil’s goal signed at the UN Climate Convention, which is a transition to an energy system with a greater share of renewable energy by 2030.

“Compliance with this goal requires more investment and technological advances, so that other energy sources may gain competitiveness in Brazil. There is an urgent need to adopt climate change mitigation practices. We want to reinforce these points thorough the creation of the platform”, affirms Sérgio Leitão.

The platform also provides information about the energy generation process in Brazil, as well as explaining what each of the energy sources presented is and making it possible to know how the electricity bill functions.