In July, Brazil registered a record in power generation by thermoelectric plants and the lowest energy production by hydroelectric plants for the month since 2002, according to data from the National Electric System Operator (ONS).
The energy generated in thermoelectric plants is more expensive and causes an increase in the cost of the electricity bill.
This scenario reflects the worsening of water scarcity in recent months. The problem is caused by the lack of rain. Consequently, there is a drop in water storage in hydroelectric reservoirs.
To save water, the government activates more thermoelectric plants, which generate energy by burning fuels such as oil and natural gas. The expansion of the use of thermoelectric plants has been causing an increase in electricity bills.
According to the ONS, thermoelectric plants generated 18,625 average megawatts (MWmed) in July 2021, the largest amount in history and double that verified in March this year (9,341 MWmed).
Thermal power generation
Previously, the record had been set in October 2017, when energy generation through thermoelectric plants stood at 17,711 MWmed.
The hydroelectric plants produced 34,489 MWmed, the lowest level since February 2002 (33,775 MWmed), the last month of energy rationing, which had started in 2001.
In terms of closed months, the July numbers are the most recent available on the ONS website.
Energy crisis: low level of reservoirs compromises hydroelectric plants
O G1 asked the Ministry of Mines and Energy if the ONS figures indicate a worsening in the situation of hydroelectric reservoirs and an increase in the risk of blackouts and new energy rationing in the country.
The ministry sent a response, but did not comment specifically on the questioning of the G1. Instead, it listed a series of measures adopted to alleviate the impact of the water crisis and ensure that the country’s energy demand was met.
“Since October 2020, the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) has adopted several measures to mitigate the impact on the electricity sector of the worst scenario of water scarcity in the country’s history. Among the most recent actions, the decree that establishes the reduction of electric energy consumption in the federal public administration and programs for voluntary reduction of demand by large and small consumers”, says the note.
“The Chamber of Exceptional Rules for Hydroenergy Management (CREG) issued two resolutions to face the scenario of increased generation costs resulting from water scarcity: the creation of a new level of tariff flag and the launch of the Incentive Program for Voluntary Reduction of Consumption of Electric Energy”, added the ministry.
At the end of August, the government and the National Electric Energy Agency (Aneel) announced a new level of tariff flag. Called the “water scarcity tariff flag”, it went into effect on September 1st and introduced an additional charge of R$ 14.20 for each 100 kW/h consumed on electricity bills.
The new flag is expected to remain in effect until April 30, 2022.
Also at the end of August, the government announced a program that will discount the electricity bills of residential consumers and small businesses that voluntarily reduce energy consumption.
This program provides a bonus for those who reduce energy consumption between September and December by at least 10% compared to the same period in 2020.
The discount will be R$ 0.50 for each kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy saved, within a target of 10% to 20%. Anyone who saves less than 10% will not receive a bonus, and anyone who saves more than 20% will not receive an additional reward.
O G1 it also sought out the ONS and was waiting for an answer until the last update of this report.