Inter Press Service
Nov 19, 2021
Low levels in Brazil’s hydroelectric reservoirs cause power outages and rationing with increase in costs
Brazil's worst drought in almost a century is jeopardizing the supply of electricity and critical crops, which in turn is causing the energy and food prices to soar. Brazil lost 15.7 percent of its territory covered by water, which is the equivalent of 3.1 million hectares, in span of 30 years, according to a satellite imagery study by a Project known as Mapbiomas. The water levels in reservoirs in the southeast and midwest regions account for 70 percent of the country’s hydroelectric generation capacity.
Due to the lack of rainfall, the country's water levels are likely to continue deteriorating, according to the electric grid operator ONS. In Spite of electricity rationing the country still faces blackouts in areas most affected. Hydropower reservoirs continue to dry up forcing the government to switch to expensive and more damaging thermal plants.The national power grid in Sao Paulo state’s biggest hydroelectricity plant in Ilha solteira can no longer be used to produce energy. President Jair Bolsonaro encouraged the Brazilians to "turn off a light at home" to conserve power, and the government hiked electricity prices by an average of seven percent in September to cover for new power plants and energy imports.
As most of the countries are seeking to change their energy mixes to mitigate climate change, Brazil has also had to adapt to the climate crisis. Brazil’s electricity mix has recently been diversified with the expansion of new renewable sources. Wind power now accounts for upto 10 percent of the total capacity and solar power makes up 1.87 percent, while thermal power, mostly from oil derivatives, rose to 25 percent. Diversification could be the next big thing to help this country overcome this crisis.
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