Brazil faces challenges in implementing its energy transition

Brazil is among the countries with the largest sources of clean and renewable energy on the planet: 80% of what we consume in its territory comes from water, wind or sun. On the other hand, when talking about energy transition, there is a lack of investment for the country to become competitive in the international market. Experts believe that this is the right time to put the nation on the agenda as a global champion.

In 2023, Brazilians will feel the effects of global warming combined with El Niño – large changes in the distribution of water surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, with significant changes in climate – for a longer and more intense period. From unprecedented drought in the Amazon to floods and hurricanes in the south, extreme weather events draw attention to the need to act quickly and decisively to stop greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the Director of Human Resources and Communications at the Research Center for Greenhouse Gas Innovations – RCGI, Karen Luiz Mascarenhas, the energy transition is a concept that is still being discussed, but is usually understood as the transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources.

“This shift is required, as science points to emissions from the use of fossil fuels as the main cause of anthropogenic climate change, that is, those caused by human activities, whether industrial, agricultural or deforestation, which lead to the release of carbon dioxide and other gases.” The expert explained, “Greenhouse gases are called greenhouse gases, which heat the planet Earth.”

According to the RCGI director, switching to renewable energy is essential to reduce global warming. “Because it causes climate change, leading to extreme events, such as drought, heavy rains, and devastating wildfires, it interferes with global land use, food production systems, and terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. This can lead to the extinction of local species.”

“The energy transition follows different paths depending on the context, taking into account the availability of natural resources, technological development, consumer market demand and end uses, cultural and economic aspects, government decisions and public policies, as well as the perception and acceptance of society in its different circumstances,” he said. Mascarenhas.

In this sense, Brazil has important assets to implement its energy transition. For Karen Louise Mascarenhas, the country “has abundant natural resources, such as sun, wind and water, which favor renewable energy generation.”

“In addition, the Brazilian energy matrix contains a significant share of biofuels, such as ethanol from sugarcane or corn, with low levels of emissions. These emissions can be reduced to zero or negative by implementing complementary capture and carbon storage technologies in the process.”

However, the expert explains that despite the progress, the country relies heavily on fossil fuels, especially in the heavy transport sector. He stressed the need to invest in infrastructure to expand the capacity to generate renewable energy and integrate it into the electrical network.

The Director noted how the government’s agenda has encouraged renewable energy by promoting programs and initiatives, such as energy auctions and financing lines, for example. “Brazil has participated in international agreements on climate change, demonstrating its commitment to reducing emissions.”

Challenges

For the country to be a champion of this agenda, there are obstacles that must be overcome. According to Luiz Ferraro, Vice President of the Brazilian Fund for Environmental Education (Fun BEA), it is necessary to reformulate the state’s approach to this issue. “Brazil plays a central role in the global scenario, and what we can question is that we were at a disadvantage as a commodity exporter. I see a continuum of risks, of being just exporters of energy or products with high energy content and the risks of being buyers of energy transition technologies.”

“In order not to remain in the same place on the tram, we need to face the challenges that we have been discussing since José Bonifacio and Celso Furtado, which is to change our export agenda to higher value-added products and challenge investment in education, science and technology so that we can be developers and exporters of knowledge and technology and not Importers,” noted Fun BEA Vice President.

For Ferraro, the negative points that Brazil may face in the medium to long term are the same as those we faced with our traditional place on the tram of history. In this place that we normally occupy, the risks and externalities of operations (pollution, waste, loss of land, reduced availability of water and fish, etc.) are generalized over the entire population, especially for the most vulnerable groups, while the benefits and profits are privatized by the minority.

“Some countries have managed to change their place in the international division of labour, leaving the ‘factory floor’ and moving to better positions, with exchanges more favorable to the well-being of their citizens. These countries usually invest in STEM education.” “Technology, infrastructure and diversification of its economic agenda. China includes in this a very strong development of its internal market.”

A new report from the International Energy Agency, released on the 24th of this month, shows that Brazil and the world are investing more in the energy transition than in fossil fuel exploration and production. By 2030, the share of renewable energy sources in the world should jump from the current 30% to 50%, according to the entity linked to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

According to Luciano Machado, a civil engineer specializing in geotechnical, the main challenges facing the country to be a champion in the energy transition “are directly linked to financial and political interests, creating a favorable internal environment for implementing public policies for the transition, abandoning exploitation, as well as establishing strategic alliances.” On the world stage, he will be the one who determines whether Brazil will truly be the champion of the transformation the world so desperately needs.

The government’s contradictory agenda

The government’s contradictory agenda has left environmentalists and authorities in the electricity sector wary of the energy transition. Brazil has the assets to be a major player in the use of clean energy, but the expansion of the use of fossil fuels, including non-resilient thermal power plants, as well as Petrobras’ insistence on exploring Foz do Amazonas, on the tropical fringe, threatens the progress of this process.

For Climate Observatory Public Policy Coordinator Solly Araujo, the country is in trouble with the recent measures approved by the government. He highlights that “there is an internal contradiction in the narrative and in well-constructed public policies in the field of environment and climate in the energy field.”

With a production of 3.672 million barrels of oil per day, Brazil is the ninth largest oil producer in the world and the first in Latin America. Since the recent announcement of joining the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) – the enlarged version of the Organization of Petroleum Producing Countries, a union of the world’s largest producers – the country has received incentives to expand production.

“We are not small in this field. It is an exporting country and does not need to increase production to meet its internal demand. The idea of ​​some parties in the energy field is to increase production to move from the ninth largest producer to fourth place. They want to compete with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in one way or another.” .

Ignoring the uproar demanding a halt to the use of fossil fuels, the National Petroleum Agency, early last December, organized a huge auction to purchase 603 areas for oil and natural gas exploration. Dubbed the “End of the World Auction,” it is the largest ever in the country, with some of these blocks located in conservation areas.

“The auction achieved a good balance, with 194 lots purchased, and fortunately the market was wise in certain situations and stayed away from buying blocks in protected areas, because 11 lots were for sale in the underwater mountain range that forms part of the same ecosystem.” Atole das Rocas, in Fernando de Noronha. The market itself is what jumped. This option to intensify oil production may generate money, and the debate is about who and at what cost.”

According to the researcher, the auction showed a significant contradiction with the concerns raised during the twenty-eighth United Nations Climate Conference (COP28). He stressed, “Even if this oil does not enter our emissions account, because it will be exported and burned somewhere in the world, this will contribute to the exacerbation of the climate crisis.”

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(Tags for translation)Energy transition

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