Brazil is among the world leaders in the use of renewable energy sources. While the world energy grid is composed of only 13.5% of the renewable sources, in Brazil, these sources accounted for 43.5% of the energy grid (EPE). In recent years, in addition to the water source, other renewable sources such as wind and biofuels have increased their share in the energy matrix, making room for the emergence of new productive chains, creation of jobs and technological development. Rio Grande do Sul stands out in the development of wind power, biodiesel and small hydropower plants (SHPPs). More recently, the private sector and the State Government have also being focusing on the development of photovoltaic energy.
At the same time, the increasing integration of clean energy into the energy matrix contributes to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG), providing the conditions for the country to comply with the commitments made in the Paris Agreement, signed during the United Nations Conference on Climate Change - COP 21, in 2015. The Paris Agreement provides for the reduction of GHG emissions by 37%, in 2025, and by 43%, in 2030, using as reference the emissions in 2005. For this purpose, Brazil’s Nationally Determined Contributions (CND) aim to increase their participation in the renewable energy matrix to 45% and the participation of bioenergies to 18%, by 2030 (MMA).
The expansion of renewable energies in the world, and especially, in Brazil, has created business opportunities and turned energy into one of the most dynamic economic sectors. According to the Ministry of the Environment (MMA), the commitments made by the signatories to the Paris Agreement will mobilize approximately US$ 100 billion per year.
The renewable energy targets set by the main institutions responsible for planning, regulation and research in the energy sector are more ambitious than those set during COP 21, in 2015, in Paris. According to the Energy Development Plan (PDE), 48% of the Brazilian energy matrix will be composed of renewable sources in 2026. SHPPs, biomass, photovoltaic and wind power will grow 120%, with their installed capacity increasing from 28.7 GW in 2016 to 63.2 GW in 2026. In the PDE horizon, wind energy will reach 28.47 GW, and solar energy, still incipient, could reach 9.6 GW (EPE, PDE 2026).
Rio Grande do Sul was the pioneer state in Brazil in the development of wind power, with the installation of the first wind farm in the country. The state ranks fourth in Brazil in installed capacity (16%), first in biodiesel production and accounts for 12% of the installed capacity of SHPs. Renewable energies account for 76.1% of the installed capacity for electricity generation in Rio Grande do Sul, as follows: 50.33% (hydroelectric plants), 19.11% (wind), 6.31% (SHPs) and 0.35% (Hydroelectric Power Center) (Aneel).
Moreover, Rio Grande do Sul adhered to the distributed solar PV generation model. The State ranks second in Brazil in the number of consumer units that generate photovoltaic energy.
Rio Grande do Sul counts on a set of policies and institutions that favor the development of clean energies. Since the last decade, the State Government has been developing policies targeted to the improvement of investment conditions and expansion of renewable energies since the last decade. In addition to tax incentives, renewable energies are considered strategic for the investment attraction policy and are based on tools aimed to support, streamline and facilitate the installation of energy generation, transmission and distribution projects. The Wind Atlas of Rio Grande do Sul that shows the state's potential for wind power generation, by regions and municipalities was published in 2014. The State Department of Mines and Energy has established the RS Renewable Energies Program, the Program of Incentive to Small Hydropower Plants, the Biomass Atlas, the Energy Program, and is currently developing its first Solarimetric Atlas, in partnership with universities and representative of the energy sector.
The State Department of Environment and Sustainable Development (Sema) is completing the Environmental-Economic Zoning (EEZ), a tool designed to assist in territorial planning and ordering, which will attempt to identify the peculiarities, vulnerabilities and potentialities of each region of Rio Grande do Sul, to assist the private sector in making sustainable decisions and the constitution and execution of public policies. More recently, the Online Licensing System (OLS) has been launched, ensuring more transparency and objectivity to the licensing process. Under the coordination of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the wind and solar energy sectors are organized through forums that meet periodically, integrating representatives of all the segments of the productive chains involved.
The State Department of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (Seapi) and the State Department of Rural Development, Cooperativism and Fisheries (SDR) assist rural producers, with support from the federal government, in obtaining raw materials for biofuels and for power generation in their farms.