Severe drought impairs hydro generation in Brazil, president calls for energy savings

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The risk of energy rationing is becoming more urgent in Brazil, and President Jair Bolsonaro is asking citizens to reduce energy consumption in a country where 70% of its electricity comes from hydropower plants.

“The problem is serious. I’m going to try to make an appeal to you who are home now. I’m sure you can turn off a spot of light now. I ask this favor of you that will help to save energy and the use of water from hydroelectric plants,” Bolsonaro said during his weekly YouTube broadcast.

According to BNamericas, rationing was previously only debated among stakeholders in the electricity sector. And just hours before Bolsonaro’s broadcast, mines and energy minister Bento Albuquerque said the government was not working with a rationing scenario.

With hydropower being the backbone of the country’s energy system, the most severe drought in 91 years is preventing generation.

“For the most part, in these dams, we are already around 10%, 15% of storage. We are at the limit of the limit. Some will cease to function if this hydrological crisis continues,” added Bolsonaro.

Earlier this year, the government created a commission to develop a water preservation plan for the reservoirs of the main hydroelectric dams to avoid power shortages.

Meanwhile, watchdog Aneel activated the red flag tariff, imposing higher energy prices to encourage less power consumption, which is fueling inflation.

Waterways are affected too. A stretch of São Paulo state’s Tietê-Paraná waterway, important for grain transport, was closed on Friday due to the low water levels.

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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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