Change in the electricity sector causes a race for solar energy – Economy

Solar plant of (re)energisa in Capim Branco (MG)
Solar plant of (re)energisa in Capim Branco (MG). Company invests BRL 1.1 billion in distributed photovoltaic generation this year (photo: Energisa/disclosure)
The prospect of a vote in the National Congress of a bill that deregulates the electricity sector and the charging of the “wire fee” in photovoltaic solar generation starting next year are promoting a rush by companies to expand capacity or enter the generation of solar energy.

In the race for the sun are large energy distributors, commercialization companies in the free market and large consumers, in addition to new businesses, seeking to ensure their presence in the distributed photovoltaic solar generation market (plants of up to 5 MW), whose installed capacity has grown by 70 % in 12 months and reached the historic mark of 11.31 gigawatts (GW). In homes and small businesses, the prospect of rising electricity tariffs and inflation motivate the expansion of panels installed on roofs.

The legal changes that are moving the sector began at the beginning of this year, with the enactment of Law 13,400, the legal framework for distributed solar generation, which establishes the charging of the tariff for the use of the distribution system (Tusd) for projects installed from 2023, guaranteeing exemption until 2045 for systems installed by the end of this year.

Bill 414/2021, approved in the Senate, should be voted on in the Chamber of Deputies by the end of this year. The proposal provides for portability in the electricity bill, expanding the free market for residential consumers, and modernizing the regulatory framework for the electricity sector.

In the first half of this year alone, the generation capacity of distributed systems was increased by 2.7 GW, from 8.3 GW to the power registered now (11.31 GW). With the rush of investments, another 6.2 GW will be installed by the end of the year, when, with total investments of R$ 40.6 billion, raising the generation capacity to 17.2 GW, which will represent a growth of 105 % compared to the level in December 2021, according to figures from the Brazilian Photovoltaic Solar Energy Association (Absolar).

It is the fastest race for the sun in Minas Gerais, which leads the country’s distributed solar generation with installed power of 1.84 GW and a 16.2% market share. And this power should continue to grow, with the number of consumers increasing, attracted by discounts ranging from 15% to 20% on the electricity bill. The two largest energy distributors in the state, Companhia Energtica de Minas Gerais (Cemig) and Energisa are investing heavily to diversify the source of energy for customers. Energisa created (re)energiza to operate in the unregulated market, including distributed generation.

With 26 solar farms in Minas and one in Rio, (re)energy is investing R$ 1.1 billion this year in installing 50 plants and increasing installed power to 230 megawatts (MW), more than doubling the number of plants (21) at the end of 2021. Today, the company operates in distributed generation with an installed capacity of 85 megawatts and a portfolio of 2,000 customers, including small and medium-sized businesses attracted by a discount of up to 20% on their electricity bill.

In 2020, non-regulated energy businesses contributed 8% of the Energisa Group’s revenue and the perspective, according to Roberta Godoi, vice president of energy solutions and leader of (re)energiza, that in the near future business in the market will not regulated exceed those regulated in the group. She believes that there is an ongoing change in the electricity sector, whereby “the vision of the asset is shifted to the vision of the customer, and whoever serves the customer with diverse products will be more successful and in the distributed generation there is a market for added services”.

This prospect of advancement of non-regulated businesses on the services provided by concession led Cemig to join the Mori Energia group at the end of 2019 and create Cemig SIM, a subsidiary for the distributed generation area. With 18 solar plants installed in Minas with a capacity to generate 72 MW and a portfolio of 6 thousand customers, Cemig is investing R$ 300 million this year to expand its generation capacity and at the end of last month it announced the purchase of three photovoltaic plants FortlevSolar in Prudente de Morais, Jequitib and Montes Claros with a total potential of 16.21 MW. With the contribution, which is part of an investment program of around R$ 1 billion until 2025, Cemig Sim will be able to serve over 2,500 consumers in the low voltage residential, commercial and industrial markets.

From the free market to the ‘distributed’

The race to guarantee distributed generation plants without additional charges as of 2023 has also attracted energy traders in the free market, which already accounts for a 30% share of all energy sold to large consumers. Esfera Energia and Trinity Energias Renováveis ​​are two of the companies operating in the free market that are now entering the photovoltaic distributed generation market. With the purchase of Norten Energia, in August 2021, Esfera took the first step towards entering the solar energy market by providing services. With investments of R$ 25 million encouraged by Esfera, solar farms are added to the company’s portfolio, which this year launched a solar energy subscription plan with a 16% discount on the electricity bill.

Esfera Energia’s Vice President of Customer Acquisitions and Business Transformation, Guilherme Esperido, says that the company’s goal is to have 200,000 customers connected to distributed generation solar plants by 2025, with 8,000 customers adhering to the company’s plan in Minas Gerais this year. “Esfera does not build plants, but subcontracts from a selection of projects that are part of our portfolio and from this source, the apportionment with customers is made. The consumer is our client as well as the generators”, explains Esperidio, remembering that surplus energy generated on roofs is also captured.

For Esperidio, the fact that from 2023 onwards, new solar systems will have to pay a fee for using the distribution network will not discourage investments in distributed generation. “These are 10-year, 15-year projects and in that time there will be evolution in terms of efficiency and the generation cost tends to fall and with that the scenario is well balanced, offering an opportunity for further development.” says the executive of Esfera Energia. To encourage consumer adhesion, the company offers a 20% discount in June, the first month of operation of the subscription plan that can be purchased on the Esfera website.

With the proposal to invest in the own generation of distributed photovoltaic energy, Trinity Energias Renováveis ​​made a contribution of R$ 28 million in the installation of two solar farms in Minas Gerais, with a capacity of 3.2 MW each, totaling 6.4 MW of power. installed. The plants, installed in Bom Sucesso, in the south of the state, are in the final stages of construction and will be able to supply energy to 3,000 homes by the end of this year. With a subscription contract, Trinity grants a 15% discount on its customers’ electricity bills.

The company, which started its operations in 2012 in the free energy market with consultancy for consumers, generators for energy trading, is now investing in distributed generation. “The company’s strategic plan, which is still in the feasibility analysis phase, will reach the generation of 100 MW by 2025, with solar farms in Minas, So Paulo and Rio de Janeiro”, informs Trinity CEO Joo Sanches. The company’s goal is to have one thousand customers (consumers/generators) in its portfolio within three years.

Attractive clean energy

In addition to the possibility of reducing electricity bill costs, the dissemination and adoption of ESG concepts by Brazilian companies is increasing investments in distributed generation. In this race, Arcos Dourados, responsible for the McDonald’s operation, inaugurated, in partnership with EDP, three solar plants with the capacity to generate 11,720 MWh/year and that will meet the demand of 28 restaurants and seven dessert kiosks of the chain.

The plants, which required investments of R$ 28.3 million, are located, one in Cotia (SP) and two in Rio Paranaba (MG) and will supply energy to MCDonald’s for 12 years. The plants will avoid the emission of 725 tons of CO2 annually. The Minas Gerais startup Finehra Energia decided to combine the race for investments in generation with the demand from companies to reduce CO2 emissions. The company captures small generators that used to compensate the surpluses with credit from the concessionaires and now sell this energy and created the green ticket, offered to large companies that publicize the Finehra subscription plan to employees, which has the option of reducing the cost of the energy bill.

“There is no cost to the company that has a green seal and accounts for the reduction of CO2 emissions”, explains rika Garcia, CEO of the startup created in 2020. Today, Finehra has 100 solar systems on its platform, with the capacity to generate 15 MW and the goal is to reach the end of the year with a power of 25 MW and a universe of 12 thousand company employees benefiting from the green ticket.

About Yadunandan Singh

Born in 1992, Yadunandan approaches the world of video games thanks to two sacred monsters like Diablo and above all Sonic, strictly in the Sega Saturn version. Ranging between consoles and PCs, he is particularly fond of platform titles and RPGs, not disdaining all other genres and moving in the constant search for the perfect balance between narration and interactivity.

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