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No blackouts or high bill costs: Solar energy storage arrives in Brazil as an alternative for self-production of clean energy

Stopping global warming is one of today's biggest challenges, since, across the world, the climate crisis has caused extreme and often devastating weather events, such as hurricanes, storms or worrying heat waves. And Brazil is not outside this scenario. Only in this summer of 2024, the damage caused by the rains between the months of January and March, especially in the Center-South, in addition to floods and fatal victims, caused blackouts that left, for example, the largest metropolis in Latin America under a blackout that it lasted up to seven days, in the first month of the year, a situation that was repeated in some neighborhoods in the same city in March.

Stopping global warming is one of today's biggest challenges
Stopping global warming is one of today's biggest challenges

And a few days before the beginning of autumn, both the capital of São Paulo and the entire Center-South of Brazil felt the effects of a new heat wave, which raised the temperature to historic levels, for example, in the capital of Rio de Janeiro, which recorded the most of 40º C and a thermal sensation that exceeded 62º C. The result of this heat wave, according to the ONS (National Electric System Operator), was that, at 2:37 pm on March 15, energy consumption was a record high and reached 102,478 MW. The previous record had been broken on February 7th of this year, when 101,860 MW were consumed. Since November 2023, SIN has been recording successive records in demand due to heat waves.

This is a scenario that has accelerated the race in search of alternatives that do not impact the environment and, consequently, lead to an even more worrying situation. And this search includes renewable energy sources, such as solar energy. Brazil is beginning to follow the path of many countries that have already embraced solar energy storage on a large scale. And this energy source has been essential to meet Brazilian energy demand, especially due to the increasingly frequent occurrence of these phenomena, being an essential complementary source to hydroelectric plants. Currently, according to Absolar (Brazilian Solar Energy Association), solar energy represents 40 GW of installed power, which accounts for 17.4% of the Brazilian electrical matrix.

In addition to its importance as a complementary source to the energy matrix, Brazil is moving towards the next step in photovoltaic solar energy – battery storage. But first it is important to explain the difference between this and the traditional solar energy system. In the traditional way, the photovoltaic solar generator is connected to the utility's grid - during the day, the consumer uses the energy it produces, while whatever is left over is injected into the grid and generates credits at the energy dealership. At night, these credits are compensated, that is, in this traditional system there is still energy dependence on the concessionaire's network.

And this is precisely the main difference in relation to the photovoltaic solar energy storage system in batteries. For this system to work, it is necessary to purchase hybrid inverters, which are the 'brain' of the system, that is, equipment that can operate simultaneously with an energy source (solar panels) and a battery bank.

Inverters work connected to the grid while the battery bank is charging, or vice versa, for example, during night or rainy periods. This way, even in the event of blackouts, the system prevents the power supply from being interrupted. And this simultaneous work is what differentiates it from other inverters.

In other words, one of the main advantages of the storage system is that, during the day, instead of injecting energy that is not consumed into the grid, it is directed to the battery and can be used later. This way, there will be no dependence on the electricity grid, in addition to substantial savings on energy bills, which can reach 95%, which means that the battery storage system will pay for itself in 6 to 8 years.

For industry or commerce, this storage guarantees energy security, since, in the event of a blackout, remaining without energy for a long time can create a very complicated situation. And for residential customers, with so many people working from home, as well as those who depend on healthcare equipment that runs on electricity, it is essential that there are no power outages.

And, as it is a market that is beginning to enter the country, SolaX Power, a global company based in China, which was the first manufacturer of hybrid inverters in Asia, in 2013, begins its Brazilian operation bringing all this know-how into perspective to leverage this market. The company's idea is to transform Brazil into one of the main global players.

Such optimism is well-founded: there is enormous Brazilian potential that has not yet been explored. According to data from Movimento Solar Livre, Brazil has 93.5 million consumer units and only 3.4 million have distributed generation (electricity generated at the point of consumption, such as renewable energy), that is, 2.95%.

And with the reduction of more than 40% in the value of solar panels in 2023, according to a study by Portal Solar, the tendency is for the attractiveness of this energy source to grow significantly, a scenario combined with the possibility of storing this energy clean, ensuring energy security and reduction in payback (the period necessary for the cost of purchasing and installing the equipment to pay off).

This reduction in the period for return on investment is an important indicator of the competitiveness of photovoltaic systems, since the shorter the period, the more attractive it is to invest in this system and, with the reduction in the value of solar panels, the downward trend is real.

Gilberto Camargos

Executive Director of SolaX Power in Brazil

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