Brazil is a month away from facing blackouts

The electrical system is just over a month away from experiencing an emergency situation of collapse with blackouts in the country. The so-called National Interconnected System is each day with a generation situation that is more degraded by the scarce rain in the country, such as MetSul detailed in analysis, and the much-feared blackout scenario seems ever more real.

Vehicles roam on May 23 in São Paulo during a massive blackout in São Paulo on November 11, 2009. A massive blackout in South-Central Brazil that day left tens of millions of people in darkness and sparked a massive police mobilization amid fears of a crime wave. | Maurício Lima/AFP/MetSul Meteorology

The electricity system will need an average of 5.5 GW in additional generation as of this month of September to avoid blackouts in October and November, according to a technical note released by the National System Operator (ONS).

Experts interviewed by journalist Luciano Costa, a specialist in energy at Scoop, reported that the “situation is extremely critical” with real risks of disconnection. Experts work with the possibility of the national operator being forced to carry out regional load relief, with power cuts in different parts of the country, to avoid a national blackout.

The National Electric System Operator, at the request of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, issued a new note technical information on the conditions of the National Interconnected System (SIN) until November. The review was necessary after observing a lower rainfall affluence below what was anticipated by the agency in the previous analysis, mainly in southern Brazil.

The adopted hydrological scenarios have been obtained considering the current soil conditions, the predicted precipitation for the first 45 days following and the verified precipitation from the year 2020 until now.

Even so, as the total rainfall projected by the ONS in the last study was not confirmed and the volume of water observed in 2021 was lower than that verified in 2020, especially in the basins of southern Brazil, the inflows were below those considered in the technical note previous.

Rain has been far below normal in the last six months in South-Central Brazil, especially in the Paraná and Iguaçu rivers basins that guarantee most of the national hydroelectric generation | NOAA

The scarcity of precipitation resulted in a decrease of the starting levels in August of about 10 percentage points below that indicated in the July note with a reduction of about 2,000 MWmed in the Affluent Natural Energy (ENA) of the SIN from August to November.

Following the model previously applied, when preparing the review of the study, the Operator outlined two scenarios. In the first, the main reservoirs in the Paraná River basin reach the end of the dry period, that is, the month of October, with low levels of storage.

Still considering this more adverse situation, even with the complete use of the hydraulic resources of the Southeast/Midwest subsystem, with the reaching of the restriction range of the São Francisco basin plants, and with the full thermal dispatch and energy transfer of the subsystem North/Northeast to the Southeast/Midwest, the resources would be insufficient to meet the energy market and will require new measures in the short term.

In the second scenario of the ONS, the energy service is made possible by incorporating additional resources with storage gains and the elimination of possible generation deficits.

Therefore, highlights the National System Operator, in order to ensure that demand is met, it is essential to increase supply by around 5.5 GWmed, from the next month to November.

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Finally, in release, the National System Operator describes the delicate current energy situation in the country as “sensitive” and the water situation in Brazil at the moment as one of the worst inflows in the last 91 years into the National Interconnected System (SIN).