Hydropower made up 66% of Brazil’s electricity generation in 2020, EIA says

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Brazil largely relies on hydropower for electricity generation. In 2020, hydropower supplied 66% of its electricity demand, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Of the remaining third, wind and solar generation had a combined 11% share of the country’s electricity generation in 2020. Fossil fuel-fired plants made up another 12% of electricity generation, biomass accounted for an 8% share and nuclear power accounted for 2%.

Most of Brazil’s hydropower capacity is located north in the Amazon River Basin, but electricity demand centers are mainly along the eastern coast, particularly in the south. National electricity reliability is challenged because of the country’s reliance on hydropower, the long distance between hydropower generation and demand centers, continued drought conditions and deforestation.

Brazil aims to increase domestic natural gas production to help diversify its generation mix. Brazil has at least 34 natural gas-fired power plants with a total capacity of 11,026 MW. Natural gas production has been growing as Brazil develops its vast offshore natural gas reserves, most of which are in the south off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. Brazil also imports natural gas by pipeline from Bolivia and as liquefied natural gas primarily from the U.S., Trinidad and Tobago, and Nigeria.

Brazil’s two nuclear reactors are located between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The units have a combined capacity of 1,884 MW and supplied 14.1 billion kWh of electricity to both cities in 2020. A third nuclear reactor is under construction. It is expected to be completed between 2026 and 2027 and has a capacity of 1,340 MW.

Non-hydro renewables are the fastest-growing technologies in Brazil’s generation mix. With 4,600 miles of windy coastline, Brazil has abundant wind resources. Wind capacity in Brazil totaled 17,198 MW in 2020. Although solar still represents a small share of the country’s generation mix, it more than doubled between 2018 and 2020, from 3.5 billion kWh to 6.7 billion kWh.

In the Brazilian government’s latest 10-year plan, it forecasts that renewable sources will account for most of the additions to installed power capacity expansion by 2030.The largest forecast addition will come from solar.

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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