There has been a renewed commitment in investing in the solar energy sector in BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China). In particular, domestic and international energy demands and preferences have translated to a paradigm shift concerning energy solutions in Brazil. Ilaria Bertini, writing for the Blue & Green Tomorrow, notes that Brazil has made massive investments in clean energy in the last few years and plans to launch more in the near future.
Solar Energy in Brazil: Statistics and Types
Brazil enjoys favorable conditions regarding solar energy more so in the Midwest and the Northeast of the country. This is because it receives reliable and significant solar radiation throughout the year. In fact, tourists famously say that they want to visit the sun-kissed Brazil. However, only less than 1 % of Brazil’s energy needs are met through consumption of solar energy. This has placed the country in a dire energy need situation. For example, when Brazil hosted the 2014 world cup in Brazil, providing reliable energy supply was an uphill task.
There are various dynamics that are shaping the energy sector in Brazil. The fact that Brazil has had a strong economic growth (6 % as at 2010) will translate to more energy needs. Analysts predict that the energy needs for Brazil are going to increase tremendously parallel to the country’s social and economic vision.
Brazil and the Energy Crisis
The political blueprint outlined in the 1970s sought to exploit the hydroelectric power potential in the country. Consequently, the government lay a well established infrastructure in hydroelectric power. While this plan was well intentioned, it was executed at the expense of other sources of energy such as solar energy.
Years of accumulated drought made Brazil face a dire energy crisis hitherto not recorded in its history. Residential and industrial power consumers were forced to cut down their power consumption by a whooping fifth. Millions of Brazilians were left using candle lights. President Cardoso established the Crisis Management Board that categorically stated that the country’s reliance on hydro electric power was no longer sustainable.
It is in this light that the country has adopted the use of solar energy in order to avert such a crisis in the future. This will mean more solar energy career opportunities. Another dynamic shaping the solar energy landscape is that Brazil has been taunted as an emerging superpower. Whereas this claim may be a far fetched premise, and may be difficult to verify bearing in mind the heavy requirements of the road to being a superpower, the fact remains that Brazil is a formidable force to reckon with. Such countries do have more energy needs because of their ambitious economic development projects.
Major Solar Energy Projects in Brazil
There are over 200 projects with business interests in solar energy in Brazil carrying out ambitious solar projects. To start with, a Canadian solar company, PV Developer, is partnering with a local solar company in Brazil, Solatio, and the due won a contract to plant three solar projects in Minas Gerais.
In 2015, the Ministry of Mines and Energy launched a project that sought to investigate if solar energy can in deed be used in hydroelectric reservoirs. Energy Green Power (EGP) started the first utility-scale solar project setting the country on the path of utility-scale solar development. The Solar Pilot Project was launched in 2009 in partnership with Germany. The aim of the project was to provide solar energy to the public and promote the concept of decentralized power.
Lastly, in October 2014, Brazil held an auction of 500 megawatts of new solar parks. The main financial of the projects was the state’s development bank, BNDES. Commercial banks would also fund the projects.
Job Positions, Qualification and Experience
There are various positions that are available in the field of solar energy in Brazil. Typically, they require a degree qualification or a solid diploma. A higher degree comes in handy when it comes to more competent positions or positions that assume a high level of responsibility. Solar energy positions in Brazil include the following: installation, technology, engineering, operations and maintenance, manufacturing, finance, and administration. The core values needed for a successful career in solar energy include environmental responsibility, safety consciousness, customer relations, and continuous improvement.
It is important to note that competence in both English and Portuguese will be an added advantage in career progression in Brazil. This is because the solar companies are both from outside and inside Brazil and they may have a variation in their language preferences. For example, serving the solar need of the rural people may require the use of Portuguese.
Brazil is a fertile ground for investment related to photovoltaic energy. Similarly, the established and upcoming investment will translate to more jobs related to solar energy, both at the entry level and experienced level. Having faced the painful consequences of over-reliance of hydroelectric power, the country will continue to lay and execute strategic plans concerning solar energy projects.
Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.