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The National Electric Energy Agency (Aneel) revises the electricity tariff again on Friday, 28. In May, the regulatory agency changed the tariff flag to red at level 1, which meant an additional charge of R $ 4,169 for every 100 kilowatt hours consumed. The expectation is that the tariff will now reach the highest level, the red flag 2. If confirmed, the increase is already applied to consumers in the electricity bills of June.
Aneel explained that April, when the yellow tariff flag was in force, marked the end of the transition period between the wet and dry seasons in the main hydrographic basins of the National Interconnected System (SIN) for electricity. According to the regulatory agency, the wet period 2020-2021 recorded the worst water inflow in the reservoir of hydroelectric dams in the History of the SIN, measured since 1931. This scenario indicates the need to activate more thermal plants, which are more expensive.
A few weeks ago, a crisis in the supply of hydroelectric reservoirs in Brazil has triggered energy risk alerts for this year. The country, which has increasing pressure in the electricity generation sector, ended the rainy season in April with the lowest levels of reservoirs in the Southeast / Midwest region, the main one in terms of hydraulic power generation, for the month since 2015, when the country also faced a severe water crisis.
In view of the risk, the government, through the Electric Sector Monitoring Committee (CMSE), authorized that all available energy generation resources be used, no matter how much it will cost the consumer in early May. The definition involves activating all thermal plants and importing energy from Argentina or Uruguay.
The federal government also created a “situation room” to monitor the energy supply in Brazil, which involves several ministries, including the Civil House and the Economy, Foreign Affairs and Environment portfolios, in addition to the Presidency’s Communication Secretariat, Ibama and municipalities such as Aneel and the National Water Agency (ANA). The group’s first meeting took place two weeks ago.
For the president of Instituto Acende Brasil, Cláudio Sales, the country does not face the risk of energy rationing, as occurred in 2001, but there is the possibility of blackouts during peak demand in the final months of the year. The expert points out that the country’s energy matrix has the capacity to supply the total demand.
“We have enough energy to meet the load, but given the conditions and limitations of the system’s operation, we are not free from the fact that before the end of the year there will be times of peak demand that cannot be fully met,” he says.
At the beginning of the month, the Minister of Mines and Energy, Bento Albuquerque, stated that there are conditions to guarantee the country’s energy security for this year. “But, ahead of time, it will require exceptional measures and also a lot of attention on the part of all public agents,” he said in an audience at the Mines and Energy Commission of the Chamber of Deputies.
According to Sales, the critical situation this year occurs mainly because in the last eight years, the time interval commonly considered in historical comparisons of rainfall, they were those with the lowest rainfall in the area of the hydroelectric reservoirs of the National Interconnected Electricity System since 1931, when started the historical series. This meant that in May Brazil entered the dry period of the year with critical levels in the reservoirs.
To make matters worse, energy consumption in the country has been above pre-pandemic levels since March this year, even with the fall in economic activity in March and April due to the restrictions caused by the pandemic’s upsurge.
The prospect of rising energy costs should put pressure on inflation for the year, points out economist Arthur Mota, who points out that the scenarios foreseen for 2021 until the beginning of the month have not yet considered the impact. “It was not thought that it would be something to endure. The main short-term vector in terms of risk is to see shocks coming from administered prices with the cost of electricity rising because the type of source that is being used is more expensive”, he evaluates economist Arthur Mota, from Prime Time Zone Invest PRO, the investment analysis arm of Prime Time Zone.
This month, financial market economists raised the inflation estimate measured by the Broad Consumer Price Index (IPCA) to 5.24% for the year, according to the latest Focus report. In the first week of the month, the forecast was for a price increase of 5.04%.
“This can generate attention from now on, because we are in a period of reopening, activity returns, vaccination, with some segments coming back to operate, which will demand more energy than what is being demanded now”, points out Mota, from Prime Time Zone Invest PRO .
For Mota, the risk lies more in prices and less in the possibility of a lack of energy for supply. Brazil has thermoelectric plants that can be used to complement the matrix when the generation of energy by other means, such as hydraulic, wind and solar, does not meet the demand. The use of thermoelectric plants, however, is expensive and implies an increase in the cost of energy.
Despite this year’s drought situation, experts point out that the concern about pressure on energy capacity has been occurring since 2000. “Even with the low growth that we have had in the last decade, we have this concern with the level of the reservoir and therefore with the impacts on energy “, points out Mota.
The researcher at the Center for Studies and Regulation in Infrastructure at FGV Diogo Lisbona points out that the growth in demand for energy in Brazil over the years, which was largely supplied by hydroelectric dams, was not accompanied by an increase in reservoirs for the supply of electricity. energy from these plants.
“In the 2000s, if the reservoirs were all full, they would be able to meet six months of consumption. Today it is around four months, because our consumption has increased and we are no longer able to build new reservoirs. It is as if this water tank it was proportionally getting smaller “, he says.
As a consequence, the pressure on the reservoirs throughout the year, after the rainy season, is increasing.
The expansion of the energy matrix in Brazil in recent years, points out Sales, occurred mainly due to the increase in cleaner sources, but which give the operator little capacity to dictate the supply, such as solar and wind energy. Its operation depends on climatic factors and has little operating margin to supply variations in demand.
“There is this multiplicity of sources, several of which, and this has been increasing in the matrix, are not dispatchable by the system operator, that is, the operator does not have control over its activation”, he explains.
The factor is added to the reduction in the participation of hydroelectric plants as a proportion of the country’s total energy load. The scenario is one more that contributes to the projection of the system’s difficulty specialist in times of peak demand.
“That is part of the great challenge: despite the fact that we have enough energy to meet the load, there may be situations in which the system operator does not have the capacity available to operate at the peak,” he says.
According to him, as the expansion of the energy supply has been predominantly from sources of intermittent generation, there is a use of hydroelectric plants for the provision of “oscillary” services, of power and frequency control, to stabilize the system, “failing to optimize the use of that water to produce energy itself “, he says.
Sales also points to a second bottleneck in the control and forecast of energy generation in Brazil. According to the expert, the fall in the productivity of hydroelectric plants when the level of the reservoirs is lower is not accounted for in the models used by the National Electric System Operator (ONS) to predict the power generation capacity. This causes the generation potential to be overestimated in situations where there are low levels of the reservoirs.
“The height of the fall is a fundamental variable for the productivity of a turbine that is installed in the hydroelectric plant. If you are working with the reservoir permanently at very low levels, productivity drops a lot”, he explains.
“If the computational model does not internalize this, the operator operates with an overestimation of the hydroelectric generation potential. Hence, resulting in a wrong operating policy.”
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