IHA and Brazilian Energy Industry highlight opportunities in energy transition in an open letter to Brazil’s new Minister of Mines and Energy, Alexandre Silveira

Brazil’s largest energy companies came together this week to highlight to Minister Silveira how the government can unlock the significant opportunities for increasing the capacity of existing hydropower plants through modernisation in the country.

The event and subsequent open letter were organised in partnership with the International Hydropower Association, Engie Brasil, SPIC Brasil and GE Renewable Energy. IHA welcomed publicly Minister Silveira’s focus on modernising Brazil’s generation fleet and recommended he take the following three steps:

  • Embed the Hydropower Sustainability Standard into regulation, financing and corporate approval systems.
  • Promote preparation of projects for concession bids.
  • Improve regulation to adequately remunerate Hydropower plants and reservoirs for their ancillary services such as flexibility, dispatchability, and storage.

The letter also emphasised the need for modernisation with the Brazilian National Energy Plan 2050 pointing to the significant opportunity to increase capacity of existing plants through modernisation. With an estimated increase of 5% to 20% in installed capacity at 51 ageing powerplants representing 50 GW the benefits would be significant: up to 11 GW of additional power.

IHA’s CEO Eddie Rich commented “Brazil has an enormous advantage in its clean energy transition. Of the more than 70 GW hydroelectric capacity in South America, the larger part is located in Brazil and has been operating for more than 30 years. This represents a golden opportunity for modernisation of the units as well as additional business involving new medium-sized plants. We stand ready to help develop a sustainable, modern and affordable electric energy system”,

“Brazil already has one of the cleanest electricity matrices in the world thanks to its hydropower plants. It is important to continue investing in the development of this modality to ensure the security of the system in parallel with the growth of other renewable sources such as wind and solar”, believes Gil Maranhão, ENGIE’s Chief Communications and Corporate Responsibility Officer and an IHA board member.

For Adriana Waltrick, CEO at SPIC Brasil, it is fundamental to pursue regulatory discussions on hydro plant repowering. “Our aim is to discuss and propose regulations which allow, whenever possible, the installation of more turbines in existing plants. Such is the case of the São Simão Hydropower Plant, this year in its 45th year, and undergoing a comprehensive retrofit of digitalization and modernisation. The more we digitalize the hydropower plants, regulation permitting, the more we can work greater power output and see our way forward for further expansion. We have acted strongly to show the gains to be had from making these investments in Brazil.”

For Cláudio Trejger, CEO of GE Renewable Energy’s Hydro Division in Latin America, the scenario is a very promising one for hydroelectric generation to take on an even more relevant profile in the national electric energy sector. “We see great opportunities for renewed construction of additional hydroelectric plants in Brazil since they bring more flexible and sustainable energy to the entire national grid. Additionally, there are advanced technologies available for investing in existing hydro plants and reducing costs and optimizing operations for the generation of more reliable, competitive and cleaner energy in the country”.

Read full letter here

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