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Are EVs viable in Brazil?

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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Are EVs viable in Brazil?

The question arises from the weakness of our supply side. Our energy matrix is too "tight" to meet the current demand. Imagine an important additional load!

1. Hydroelectric power plants (70% of our current power matrix) are fed by undersized reservoirs, which are unable to mitigate the risks of less rainy years,

2. The dispatch of thermal plants is increasing. It makes no sense (emissions and economic) to generate energy from thermal plants that have low efficiency (30% in open cycle) and then feed electric vehicles. It is as if these EVs were fueled by gasoline!

The electricity sector needs planning!

 Urgently!

* The Brazilian vehicle fleet is 60 Million
* Every million electric cars would require 0.5 GW average
* The national fleet, were it electric, would demand an average 30 GW
* The current national demand for electricity is 70 GW average
* There would be an increase in demand of around 50%

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Dr. Amal Khashab's picture
Dr. Amal Khashab on Sep 26, 2021

Hi Rafael

Not only supply deficit, but lack of transmission and distribution systems to convey generated power to the Brazilian load centers. Round figures account for investments portions as 40% for generation, 30% for transmission, and 30% for distribution.

Rafael Herzberg's picture
Rafael Herzberg on Sep 27, 2021

Absolutely! Each additional kW of the power supply chain (generation + transmission + distribution) capacity involves USD 3 000 CAPEX. 

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 27, 2021

Are there any parts of the country that are well prepared from the standpoint of having distribution infrastructure on the neighborhood/commercial site level that would allow for several EVs to be charged at once without overloading existing equipment? 

Rafael Herzberg's picture
Rafael Herzberg on Sep 27, 2021

The typical situation here in Brazil is: distribution infrastructure is not robust enough to incorporate additional loads. Actually whenever there is a new facility one should be very careful about location because most often than not, the local distribution company must invest to accommodate the associated extra load.
One recent example. I was hired as the consultant for a company who is willing to set up an operation 50 miles away from the São Paulo city (the largest in Brazil) and needs 15 MW capacity (contracted demand). Talks with the local distribution company started 6 months ago and - as of now - it seems that the most likely scenario is a 2 year wait (reinforcing the existing infrastructure is a must).
Bottom line. The best way to go would be using off-peak hours to charge EVs. But....so far there is no real engagement (regulators, independent system operator, distribution companies and energy consumers) to really go for it. This needs planning and this is not what Brazilians like to do!

Rafael Herzberg's picture
Rafael Herzberg on Sep 27, 2021

You are absolutely right! In round numbers, the whole power supply chain requires CAPEX of USD 3 000/installed kW and that is to cover generation, transmission and distribution. 

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