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Growth in the Use of Solar Energy in Brazil Generates Controversy Among Electric Utilities

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Photovoltaic solar energy, a system that transforms sunlight into an electric power source through installed rooftop equipment, has seen an increase of 350% in last year’s nationwide increase. The growth has raised concern in energy distributors, who fear the drop in tax revenues. The National Electric Energy Agency (ANEEL) discusses alternatives so that by 2020, consumers have to pay some kind of tariff to have domestic generators.

In most Brazilian states solar energy, in its “distributed” mode, where the boards are installed directly on the roof of those who will use the energy, already has a payback period of 4 to 6 years. That is, after this period the energy produced by the panels will be practically free. In a matter of 5 to 7 years, photovoltaic solar energy will be cheaper than the energy generated by hydroelectric plants, thus becoming the most competitive source.

In addition, solar energy is considered sustainable because its environmental impact is lower compared to other sources of energy from fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas.

The electrical engineer of the company Oeste Solar Energia, Rubens Araújo, says that producing energy can generate savings of up to 95% in the light bill due to factors such as the high level of solar irradiation in the State of Mato Grosso and the non-collection of taxes on the distributed generation, by the government. All this generates savings in the first month of use of the equipment.

Rubens warned that the National Electric Energy Agency (ANEEL), will open a public hearing to collect subsidies that allow a regulatory change in regulatory resolution 482/2012, which deals with rules for micro and distributed mini-generation.

The regulatory review is due to distributors’ fears that utilities will be hampered by the increase in consumers generating their own energy. The alternatives according to ANEEL, is to analyze a new system of compensation of electric energy, which values the energy injected into the network thus allowing sustainable growth. This would directly imply the current cost of this system.

It is worth remembering that the new rule is valid only for new incomers in distributed generation. For those who are already on the market, the previous rule remains. Solar energy has come to stay and democratize the production of clean energy. We expect ANEEL to maintain the benefits to consumers who choose a renewable energy source.