If President Jair Bolsonaro has sought support and advice from former President Michel Temer in the face of the institutional crisis, at least a wrong decision taken during the government of his predecessor could mitigate the effects of the water crisis experienced by Brazil today.
That’s because, in 2016, the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) of the government of then President Temer decided to cancel an energy auction that could have created around 1,200 solar and wind power plants. Under the plan, the reserve energy auction would reinforce the supply in Brazil for 20 years from July 2019. In other words, this year the country could already count on at least part of these alternative energies.
At the time, 841 wind and 419 photovoltaic generators, with an installed capacity of 35 Gigawatts, were interested in the auction, which ended up being suspended days before the date scheduled for its realization. As the auction was never held, it is not possible to effectively know how much energy Brazil has given up in 2016.
The Temer government’s decision was based on a report by the EPE (Energy Research Company), an agency linked to the MME that works in the planning of energy supply in the country.
The document presented by the agency stated that there could be “oversupply” if there were the inclusion of new sources, since the economic activity presented a perspective of low growth associated with the economic crisis, which would affect energy consumption in the country with less working factories, for example.
In the EPE’s assessment, there could be an oversupply and, therefore, hiring an energy reserve would be unnecessary.
When taking the decision, the government analyzed the panorama of energy availability in the country until 2021 and concluded, contrary to what is currently evidenced, that there would be sufficient energy supply to the point that the auction, at that moment, was not necessary.
In justifying the decision to cancel the auction, the agency explained that “the methodology currently used by EPE to calculate the need for reserve energy” involved six factors. One of them was the “Analysis of the Physical Balance of Energy Supply of the SIN [Sistema Interligado Nacional] over the next 5 years.” In other words, when making the projection at the end of 2016, EPE was already looking at the situation for the year 2021, and concluded at that moment that the energy supply in the country would be assured.
The technical note prepared by the agency to justify the cancellation took into account the economic aspects of the crisis, but disregarded the meteorological ones.
“The decision not to contract such a reserve volume, which resulted in the cancellation of the 2nd LER of 2016, was taken by the granting authority in view of the recent, unexpected and significant deterioration of the outlook for the economic scenario”, says the technical note on the cancellation.
The column sought out the former Minister of Mines and Energy, Deputy Fernando Bezerra Coelho Filho (DEM-PE), to comment on the decision, but has not yet received any feedback. The MME and EPE were also contacted, but have not yet manifested themselves.