By Nelson Belen and Ciara Long, Contributing Reporters

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – According to estimates from Brazil’s National Electric Energy Agency (ANEEL), by 2024, some 1.2 million Brazilian households are expected to adopt the new distributed energy generation system. This system allows consumers to cut costs by installing small renewable energy generators, like solar panels and microturbines, and pass on any excess energy to local distributors.

Construction workers install rooftop solar panels. Photo by Solar Energy do Brasil. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Brazil News
Construction workers install rooftop solar panels, photo by Solar Energy do Brasil.

ANEEL Director Tiago Correia, who himself has eight solar panels serving all the energy needs of his home, argues that, apart from encouraging the use of renewable energy, the system reduces investment in distribution networks, as it “brings together generation and consumption.”

ANEEL’s new rules for distributed generation in Brazil came into effect early this month, and include a number of novelties such as shared generation, which means a group of people may join efforts to start a micro- or minigeneration scheme and use it to lower electricity costs.

“The larger the system, the lower installation costs are, because some costs are diluted,” Correia claimed. “This brings the investment yield quicker, apart from making access to credit easier.”

ANEEL also authorized the generation of energy from somewhere other than the place of consumption. For instance, energy may be generated in a farmhouse and consumed in an apartment downtown, provided both sites are within the service area of the same distributor. Rules also make room for distributed energy in condos, where energy may be shared among tenants according to their own needs.

If production in a given month surpasses consumption, consumers are given credit, good for sixty months, that they may use to lower costs for the upcoming months.

From 2014 to 2016, the adoption of the new model quadrupled, going from 424 to 1,930 connections. The surge this year could reach eight hundred percent, ANEEL says. “There is great potential for growth, and the growth rate has been exponential, not least because the base is still low,” Correia notes. Today, photovoltaic solar panels account for some ninety percent of distributed energy installations in the country.

“The revised rules will bring about conditions for a significant rise in the participation of the Brazilian population in distributed energy. Brazil has just become noted for encouraging the use of distributed energy, especially solar energy,” said Rodrigo Sauaia, head of the Brazilian Photovoltaic Solar Energy Association (ABSOLAR).

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