This impressive progress
was achieved by a combination of sustained leadership, responsive
regulation, public and private investment in research and technology,
and government programmes to provide affordable electricity as part of
wider poverty-reduction efforts.
Brazil still faces a number
of challenges, however. The proportion of renewable energy in its energy
mix is declining, and is likely to drop further as new oil and gas
deposits become available. Improvements in the design and management of
(individual) large hydropower plants have not been matched by the
government setting out a persuasive case to the public for the proposed
further major expansion of hydropower. Wind and solar power currently
make a small contribution, despite wide acknowledgement of their
potential and some recent increases in capacity.
A key lesson
from Brazil’s experience is that growth in energy supply needs to be
matched with credible demand-management measures. The country has made
little progress in improving energy efficiency, which means that more
energy is being produced and consumed than is necessary. Amid the
achievements, this is a serious gap in energy policy.