Energy profile: Brazil

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This page is part of Global Energy Monitor's Latin America Energy Portal.
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Fuel mix (fossil fuels vs renewables)

Greenhouse gas emissions from Brazilian power plants, Source: IEMA, June 2022

In 2020 Brazil derived roughly one third of its total energy supply from oil, and another third from biofuels.[1][2][3] Other contributors to the national energy matrix include natural gas (13%), hydro power (12%), coal (5%), and nuclear (1%), along with growing amounts of wind and solar power.[1][2][3]

As of 2020, hydro power accounted for nearly two thirds of the country's electrical generation and installed capacity, with fossil fuels providing roughly 15%, wind and biomass 9% each, and solar energy making up the remainder. These percentages remained largely unchanged from 2019 figures.[1][2] By 2025, Brazil's national grid operator projects that the percentage of electricity generated by hydro power will drop slightly to 58.1%, while wind (14.1%), solar (4.3%), and gas-fired power plants (9.9%) will all assume greater importance in the national electricity mix.[4]

Greenhouse gas emissions targets

Brazil's Annual GHG Emissions 1990-2020, Source: SEEG
Emissions profile - Brazil, Source: Carbon Brief

As of 2020, Brazil was the world's sixth largest emitter of greenhouse gases.[5] CO2 emissions from deforestation of the Amazon rose nearly 10% in 2019 under the environmental policies of Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro[6], and by 2020 more than 25,000 kilometers of Brazilian rainforest had been destroyed during the first two years of Bolsonaro's tenure.[7] During 2020, contrary to the global trend of declining emissions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions rose to their highest levels since 2006, largely due to increasing rates of deforestation in the Amazon and elsewhere.[8][9]

Brazil's NDC (Nationally Determined Contribution) targets for 2025 and 2030 call for reductions in GHG emissions of 37% and 43%, respectively, from 2005 levels; these targets have remained unchanged since 2015.[10][11] Brazil's ongoing commitment to coal power (reaffirmed by the government in August 2021)[12][13] and increasing dependence on petroleum derivatives in the transport sector pose challenges to meeting these goals.[4]

Government energy agencies & other key players

National energy agencies

MME (Ministerio de Minas e Energia) is the Brazilian government ministry in charge of energy policy.

EPE (Empresa de Pesquisa Energética) is Brazil's energy research agency, providing energy policy and planning support to the MME in the oil, natural gas, biofuels and electricity sectors. EPE publishes regular reports including the Plano Decenal de Expansão de Energia, which offers a 10-year perspective on Brazil's energy expansion plans.[14]

Permitting agencies

IBAMA is Brazil's environmental regulatory agency, responsible for granting licenses for new power generation projects.

Regulatory agencies

ANP (Agência Nacional do Petróleo, Gás Natural e Biocombustíveis) is the government regulator for Brazil's oil, natural gas, and biofuels sector.

ANEEL is Brazil's national regulatory authority for electricity, managing the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity nationwide. ANEEL, in conjunction with MME, oversees Brazil's annual energy auctions, in which companies bid to supply generation capacity to the national grid.

Electric utilities

Brazil's state-owned utility Eletrobras is the largest electrical company in Latin America.[15][16]

National oil company

Majority state-owned Petrobras is Latin America's largest and most profitable oil producer[17][18], and a leader in deep water exploration and production.[19] Petrobras is involved in oil and gas exploration, production, and distribution, and operates refineries, power plants, and LNG terminals throughout the country.

Leading energy companies

Eneva, EDP, Enel, Engie, and New Fortress Energy are among the largest private energy companies operating in Brazil.

Electricity usage

Installed capacity

Brazil's electricity sector is one of the world's largest, ranking eighth internationally[20] and third in the Western Hemisphere behind the United States and Canada.[21] As of 2020, Brazil's total installed capacity was 179.5 GW, up from 172.3 GW in 2019. Hydro accounted for 60.88% of installed capacity (down from 63.36% in 2019), followed by non-renewable thermal sources (15.47%), wind (9.55%, up from 8.93%), renewable thermal sources (8.57%), solar (4.42%, up from 2.59%), and nuclear (1.11%).[1][2]

Brazil's Electricity Generation by Source: 2019[22]

Production

Brazil produced 621.2 TWh of electricity in 2020, slightly down from 626.3 TWh in 2019. Hydro power has long been the dominant generation source, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the country's production (63.80%) in 2020. Other sources of electricity include fossil fuels (13.57%, led by natural gas), biofuels (9.46%), wind (9.18%), nuclear (2.26%), and solar PV (1.73%), with wind and solar growing most rapidly over the past decade.[1][2][3]

Consumption

Brazil consumed 529 TWh of electricity in 2018, ranking 9th in the world.[23]

Coal in Brazil

Domestic Production

Brazil has Latin America's largest proved reserves of coal, estimated at 6.6 billion tonnes in 2019. However, it is only the region's third largest producer, lagging far behind Colombia and Mexico.[24] Coal development in Brazil is heavily concentrated in southern Brazil, which holds 99.97% of national coal reserves.[25] The southern state of Rio Grande do Sul is home to all of Brazil's significant coal mines, 88% of national coal reserves, and the majority of its operating and proposed coal-fired power plants.[26]

Consumption

Brazil consumed 5.96 million short tons of coal in 2019, ranking 27nd globally.[27]

Imports & Exports

As of September 2021, coal accounted for 55.8% of Brazil's mineral imports, with the vast majority coming from Australia, the United States, Russia and Colombia.[28] Brazil's largest coal plant, the 1085 MW Porto do Pecém, is supplied with imported coal from Colombia.[29]

Proposed new sources & projects

Brazil's proposed Guaíba Mine project, which has been seeking environmental approval since 2014, would be the largest open pit coal operation in Latin America, with the potential to produce more than 6 million tonnes per year. However, the mine has encountered ongoing legal challenges and fierce opposition from concerned citizens and environmental groups.[26][30]

While the Brazilian development bank BNDES has discontinued funding for coal projects in favor of renewables and gas-fired projects[13], Brazil's federal government continues to promote coal, calling for a R$ 20 billion investment in the country's coal sector between 2021 and 2031.[4][12][25]

Oil & Natural Gas in Brazil

Domestic Production

In 2020, Brazil was Latin America's leading producer of petroleum and other liquids and ranked 7th globally, with domestic production totaling 3.79 million barrels per day.[27] In 2019, Brazil ranked eighth worldwide in crude oil production, ninth in oil products production, and 22nd in natural gas production.[20] Recent development has focused on the the pre-salt layer off Brazil's southeastern coast, which accounts for more than half of the country's oil and natural gas reserves.[31]

Consumption

Brazil was Latin America's largest consumer of petroleum and other liquids in 2018, consuming more than 3 million barrels per day.[27] In 2019, Brazilians consumed 35.8 billion cubic meters of natural gas, ranking third in Latin America behind Mexico and Argentina.[32]

Imports, exports & source countries

Brazil is Latin America's third largest crude oil exporter (after Venezuela and Mexico), ranking 15th globally in 2018 with shipments totaling 832,000 barrels per day.[27]

Brazil supplements its own natural gas production with gas pipeline imports from Bolivia and imported LNG from overseas. As of 2019, natural gas piped in from Bolivia represented 69% of total gas imports, while LNG imports - mostly from the United States, Trinidad and Tobago and Nigeria - constituted the remaining 31%.[33] Pipeline imports have decreased following the expiration of Brazil's 20-year contract to purchase gas from Bolivia at the end of 2019, while demand for imported gas has fluctuated depending on water supply to Brazil's hydroelectric dams and changing development plans for domestic gas fields in the pre-salt layer.[34][35][36] LNG imports rose steeply in 2021, prompted by drought conditions that reduced hydroelectricity supply, and LNG is expected to see continued growth with the liberalization of Brazil's gas regulations and the construction of several new LNG import terminals.[37]

Reserves

Among South American nations, Brazil ranks second only to Venezuela in proved oil reserves (12.7 billion barrels), and third behind Venezuela and Argentina in proved natural gas reserves (12 trillion cubic feet).[33]

Transport

Brazil imports natural gas from Bolivia via the 3150 km Gasbol gas pipeline and the 645 km Cuiabá pipeline. The country's other major gas pipeline system, operated by TAG, runs up the east coast from Rio de Janeiro state to Ceará state. The centerpiece of this network is TAG's 1387 km Gasene Gas Pipeline.

Brazil has three long-established LNG import terminals in Guanabara Bay, Bahia, and Pecém, plus two newer terminals in Sergipe and Porto do Açu (Rio de Janeiro state) that began commercial operations in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Proposed new projects

Growing demand for natural gas, coupled with the country's 2021 gas law, which opened the market to competition[38][39], have prompted proposals for several new gas-to-power projects and LNG terminals on Brazil's Atlantic coast. Projects already licensed and in development include the Cosan LNG Terminal, Terminal Gás Sul, Tepor Macaé LNG Terminal, and Celba LNG Terminal.[40]

Renewable energy in Brazil

Hydro power dominates Brazil's renewables sector, led by the 14 GW Itaipu hydroelectric plant on the Paraná River between Brazil and Paraguay, which supplies nearly 11% of Brazil's electricity.[41] Brazil is the world's second largest hydroelectricity producer, after China.[33]

Wind energy is steadily growing in importance and has become Brazil's second leading source of renewable energy[42], with the largest wind farms concentrated in the northeastern Brazilian states of Rio Grande do Norte, Bahia, Ceará and Piauí.[43][44][45] According to recent reports, the Northeast is home to 82% of Brazil's wind farms[42], representing 96% of the nation's installed wind capacity and 85% of national wind generation.[46] As of 2021, Brazil ranked 7th globally in wind power generation, with roughly 19 GW of installed capacity.[47] Wind is the most rapidly growing segment of Brazil's electricity market, accounting for 83% of new generating capacity added during the first six months of 2021.[48] Interest in offshore wind is rising dramatically; as of June 2021, companies were seeking licenses for 42 GW of new offshore wind projects.[49]

Solar energy is also on the rise, spearheaded by states in southern and southeastern Brazil[50]; in 2020, installed photovoltaic capacity grew to 5.6 GW, surpassing the combined capacity of coal and nuclear power.[51] In 2005, Brazil became one of the first countries in Latin America to hold national energy auctions focused on the commissioning of renewable energy projects.[52]

Iron & Steel in Brazil

Brazil is Latin America's leading iron and steel producer, with 46,200 ttpa of steelmaking capacity and 37,422 ttpa of ironmaking capacity. Nearly three-quarters of Brazil's steel is produced using the older, more energy-intensive blast furnace/basic oxygen furnace technology.[53]

Environmental & social impacts of energy in Brazil

Brazil's Amazon basin is especially vulnerable to the impacts of extractive industries and large-scale energy infrastructure, due to the region's unparalleled biodiversity and the deep interconnections between indigenous communities and the natural environment. Among Brazil's most environmentally destructive developments is the 11.2 GW Belo Monte hydroelectric plant, the fourth largest hydro project on earth. Construction of the Belo Monte dam displaced over 20,000 people and caused irreversible damage to endemic species, flooding more than 260 square miles along the Xingu River in 2015. Brazil's plans for additional hydro mega-projects in the Amazon were scaled back in 2018, but other threats, most notably deforestation, have subsequently intensified.[6][54][55]

References

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