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Will Brazil be the new global power player for solar power?

By Robert C. Young

The technology for green power is getting better and cheaper. Over the past few years, Brazil has positioned itself to become one of the global leaders for clean energy. Will Brazil lead the way for global power in the region and the world?

 The Latin America Energy Giant

The 21st century has been quite an interesting run for Brazil. The “B” in BRICS has experienced a global roller-coaster ride of economic highs and lows over the last two decades. In 2009, the Economist boasted a photo of the Christ Redeemer statue in Rio shooting into the air like a rocket with the cover story announcing, “Brazil Takes Off.” Offshore drilling turned the Brazilian entrepreneur Eike Batista into a global rockstar. Brazil was about to become a global energy behemoth. Unfortunately, the BRICS superstar image could not hold up, and like many of the other participants of this famed group, Brazil faced challenges beyond 2010.

Regardless of the economic and political challenges faced over this time, Brazil has become a major global player in energy production in the region and beyond. Currently, hydropower accounts for approximately 63% of the country’s energy output.[1] Brazil is also Latin America’s top oil-producing country, with 97.6% produced offshore, with their 2022 average oil production 2.47% higher than the previous annual record [2]. Brazil has a strong and stable energy sector, but some interesting changes are on the horizon.


Making Giant Steps in Clean Energy

Over the past decade, Brazil has seen another energy sector blossom. That would be the fast-growing renewable energy sector, and its electricity matrix is one of the cleanest in the world: 83% of the electricity matrix in the country is from renewable energy. In comparison, the average globally is about 25%.[3] Investments in Brazil are expected to reach around  $100 billion in the electricity sector by 2029. Solar projects will be one of the biggest rising stars in renewable energy, accounting for around 70% of additional electricity in the coming years.[4] Just recently, in 2023, solar power generation surpassed wind power as the second-largest source of electricity.[5] 

With the vast amount of land and sunshine, the investment and growth of solar energy will be quite impressive over the next decade.


Sunny statistics for a shiny solar future

20 years ago, when I arrived in Brazil, the sight of a solar panel would stop one in their tracks. It was almost something that would qualify for science fiction two decades ago. Today, home and building owners in Brazil have installed over 1.8 million renewable distributed generation systems, which have contributed to over 19 gigawatts of production. [6] Brazil is one of the leading places on earth for insolation and accounts for 6.5 hours of sunshine per day. [7]

There are almost 4,000 solar power plants spread throughout Brazil. [8] The largest solar power plant is located in the state of Piauí in the Northeastern part of Brazil, while most of the other larger power plants are spread out mostly in the Southeastern states of São Paulo and Minas Gerais. This new explosion in solar energy is not only making an impact on the environment. It is also putting more food on the table: the jobs being generated by this growing industry have already created almost 800 thousand new jobs.[9]

Rising opportunities, falling costs

There might be a good reason why solar panels today are not like the science fiction dreams of the past. That reason would be the falling costs of installing solar panel units. In 2023, the prices of PV panels (photovoltaic) dropped by a jaw-dropping 40%. This price decrease is directly related to the increased production capacity in China, which accounts for 90% of PV panel production globally. [10]

Technological advancements have played a significant role in the growth of various industries. Today's equipment is around 30% more efficient than it was five years ago. Additionally, the installation process is quicker and provides better immediate returns compared to the past. [11]


The future of solar looks bright in Brazil

The combination of rising opportunities and ROI for the nation has even led the Brazilian government to take positive measures. In 2022, the Federal Government enacted a new law establishing the legal framework for protecting small-scale energy-generating schemes with renewable energy. This new law enables Brazilians to generate up to 75 KW for microgeneration and between 75 KW and 3 to 5 MW for mini-generation.[12] It is not only growing in the residential areas; in the corporate sector, solar energy means smart savings. In recent years, over 20% of supermarkets and 9% of petrol stations have installed solar panels.[13]

Brazil has also been selected to host the COP 2025 to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Conference of the Parties). This will be a golden opportunity for the country to come full circle from the revolutionary Rio Earth Summit in 1992 to now. Just recently, the government signed on with another 100 countries to triple renewable energy by 2030. This agreement was agreed upon in COP 28 in 2023 in Dubai.[14]

Brazil has set itself up to shine as one of the biggest changemakers for renewable energy in the coming decade.


Robert C. Young is a market entry analyst at Sidera Consult with over 25 years of experience working with global cultures in a wide range of business and communication topics.


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