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Electric utilities: gas water heaters?

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Rafael Herzberg's picture
Consultant energy affairs Self employed

Rafael Herzberg- is an independent energy consultant, self-employed (since 2018) based in São Paulo, Brazil* Focus on C level, VPs and upper managers associated to energy related info, analysis...

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  • Aug 5, 2020

Electric utilities: gas water heaters?

The instantaneous electric shower is perhaps the largest unit load in kW of capacity present in the national integrated system in Brazil..

There are tens of millions of units - each with about 5 kW. It consumes an average of 50 kWh / month, that is, they are used for 10 hours per month.

But... the supply chain of the electric sector needs to invest by capacity but its revenue - in this case - comes only from very low consumption per month.

My proposal is to replace the instant electric showers. It will be good for everyone:

The concessionaire

Will be able to take advantage of the capacity released to sell it to those who use energy more hours a month, such as commerce and industry. This will increase its revenue in the medium and long term WITHOUT the need to invest!

The client

By replacing the electric shower, will notice a cost reduction because in most states taking an "electric" bath at the current power rates is more expensive than gas. Saving with the retrofit pays for the investment quickly! 

It's a win-win!

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Aug 5, 2020

By what mechanism would you push this-- government incentive? Public awareness campaign? Utility programs? 

Rafael Herzberg's picture
Rafael Herzberg on Aug 5, 2020

Hi Matt. 

I am inclined to open talks with the local utility companies.

The reason is simple. The 5 kW instant electric shower only "sells" 50 kWh/month.

f these 5 kW are sold to companies (industrial/commercial energy users) who run with a 70% load factor (for example) the utilities will sell 5 kW demand (in demand charges) and in round numbers 2 500 kWh/month (commodity).

Bottom line: by relpacing these instant showers these utility companies will be able to sell a lot more than to the households with the same existing infrastructure.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 5, 2020

Rafael, what percentage of electricity customers in Brazil have a gas connection?

Rafael Herzberg's picture
Rafael Herzberg on Aug 5, 2020

Hi Bob,

In the large cities such as São Paulo and Rio - medium income neighborhoods - do have natural gas connections available.

Otherwise and the most popular gas "connection" is using Liquefied Petroleum Gas that is universally sold. A 13 kg (30 pound roughly) plug is sold at USD 14 and is superwidely avaliable.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 6, 2020

At 9 kWh/kg, that's an energy cost of USD .12/kWh. Assuming the same energy consumption, a gas-fired shower would cost about one US cent/minute.

I don't know what electricity costs in Brazil, but even if you have to get the plug home from a store and hook it up, that sounds like a pretty good deal.

Rafael Herzberg's picture
Thank Rafael for the Post!
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