Back to CNN

From Its Citizens Homes To Massive Infrastructure Projects, Brazil Is Embracing Renewable Energy At Every Level

With long spells of sun and strong winds, Brazil is the ideal climate for renewable energy – but what’s the impact of heavy investment in this sustainable industry?

The global benchmark for renewable energy usage currently sits at 13%, however not all countries are contributing equally to that figure. With a climate perfectly suited for solar and wind energy generation, Brazil is now significantly powered by renewable sources.  In fact, Brazil is the third largest producer of renewable energy in the world, only behind China and the U.S.

Brazil’s climate responsibility extends beyond the remit of preserving native vegetation in 66% of its territory – so, what exactly is Latin America’s biggest economy doing today to generate power sustainably for tomorrow?

Solar-powered progress

When you combine vast empty land with an estimated 2000 hours of uninterrupted sun each year, it’s clear to see why investment has poured into Brazilian solar energy from all corners of the globe. Today, demand has never felt higher. In fact, the country has invested significantly more in renewable energy than any other emerging economy between 2008 and 2019, totaling $24.7bn.

Shell has earmarked most of its $565m investment into Brazilian clean energy for solar power, and production lines in China are working around the clock on 20-hour schedules to meet demand. Even throughout the pandemic, the ascent to global solar powerhouse status feels unstoppable, in the first five months of 2020, over 37,000 Brazilian solar energy jobs were created.

The popularity of solar energy has spread beyond international investors to Brazil’s population. Homeowners across the country have been adding solar panels to their rooftops at a staggering rate – the figure has increased by 2000% in recent months, according to Paulo César Domingues, Secretary of Planning and Energy Development of the Ministry of Mines and Energy. That’s an unsurprising fact when you consider the powerful incentives Brazilians benefit from when adopting solar energy.

When residents install personal distributed generation systems to capture and convert the sun’s powerful rays, they pay for themselves just four years into their 25-year lifespan. And through a scheme known as net-metering, Brazilians benefit from credit for sending their unused solar energy back into the national grid.

Hydroelectricity and wind are dominating the Brazilian national grid

Brazil’s abundance of rainfall, rivers, and mixed elevation for dam building allowed them to overtake other global leaders in world energy, such as the United States, to become the third biggest producer of hydropower by installed capacity. Its 201 hydroelectric power stations provide an impressive 62% of Brazil’s total electricity supply, compared to a world average that pales in comparison at just 16%

The wind in Brazil’s sails is only getting stronger, too, as consistently strong winds allow it to be one of the world’s largest wind energy producers, with enough to power 28.8 million households every month. July marked a key milestone in the sustainable energy agenda as South America’s largest wind farm began operations. The record-breaking $750 million Lagoa Dos Ventos comprises 230 turbines and is predicted to power enough households to avoid the annual emission of over 1.9 million tons of carbon dioxide.

Understanding the value of preservation and conservation

This year, Brazil attended COP26 in Scotland with a mission statement of “Green Economy. It’s our goal. It’s how we play.” The country states that Brazilian companies will use a combination of efficiency, technology, and principles to build a more sustainable future.

A commitment to innovation has allowed the country to continue its impressive trajectory of producing large quantities of sustainable energy. By revealing the investment and path to get to this point on a global stage, the country has established itself as a key player in the energy market.