The Energy of Tomorrow
The search for energy efficiency can lead the Brazil of the future to be the Canada of today, thanks to the synergy between the two countries and many business opportunities
by Maria Emília Farto
A country of continental dimensions, with remote areas, thermal amplitude, great hydro potential and more than 60% of the total electricity generated by hydroelectric plants… is a description that can lead one to think about Brazil. Or Canada. In addition to the similarities, the business in the area of hydroelectric energy between Brazil and Canada dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, when the Canadian company Light was a pioneer in the implementation of hydroelectric energy in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the two largest Brazilian metropolises of that time. The virtuous circle created back then can be repeated in an evolved version more than 100 years later, having efficient energy management as a determining factor.
In Brazil, the discussion and search for energy efficiency began to take place more intensely in the early 2000s, during the Blackout Crisis. And it became even more pressing with the Water Crisis, in 2021, when the country faced the worst drought in the last 91 years. It profoundly impacted the production of energy by hydroelectric plants, leading Brazil to activate thermoelectric plants, which produce more expensive energy and have a negative impact on the economy.
In the opinion of experts, in addition to diversifying the energy matrix, reducing energy consumption – which encompasses investments, actions taken by the government, the private sector and civil society – is one of the fastest and most suitable ways to mitigate the impact of water crises caused by climate change.
At the other end of the continent, Canada, which is one of the largest consumers of energy per capita in the world, started to implement energy matrix diversification and energy efficiency solutions in the early 1960s. This led the country to develop solutions ranging from equipment, methodologies and devices to artificial intelligence systems and with such competence that it is currently one of the few developed countries that exports electricity.
In the opinion of Laura Tarouquela, Trade Commissioner Officer – Energy, at the Consulate General of Canada, this is the perfect scenario for generating big business. “Brazil offers many investment opportunities. Canada has come a long way in terms of energy efficiency and can provide knowledge, technology and best practices. Both have a lot to gain in this sector”, she says.
For the coming years, in Brazil, the largest investments in this context will most likely focus on energy concessionaires, industry, public lighting and public buildings. Signaling opportunities, Laura comments that “Energy concessionaires in Brazil must make mandatory investments in energy efficiency, and foreign technologies can be used”.
“In addition to diversifying the energy matrix,
reducing energy consumption is one of the fastest and most suitable ways to mitigate the impact of water crises caused by climate change, which tend to happen repeatedly”
Among the solutions that Brazilian concessionaires can seek from Canadian companies, the diplomat highlights Demand Side Management technologies. Widely used in several countries, they allow concessionaires to control demand in certain peak periods, offering differentiated tariffs.
The supply of electric energy in remote areas is also an important point in the management of energy efficiency, because in places with greater difficulty of access, more expensive systems or sources are often chosen. In such cases, Canada offers smart microgrids that allow the use and storage of renewable energy for use when needed.
With an eye on the promising scenario, some Canadian companies have successfully arrived in Brazil. This is the case with Armstrong Fluid Technology, in the hydronic fluid handling sector, which has mainly focused its business on central air conditioning systems installed in shopping malls, hospitals and airports.
Hilton Nascimento, General Manager of the Brazilian subsidiary, explains that in these buildings the electricity consumption of the air conditioning system accounts for approximately 60% of the buildings’ energy consumption. “Any gain obtained in these facilities produces a significant reduction in operating costs, with a return on investment”.
Armstrong has been in Brazil since 2012 and started operations at its manufacturing unit in 2015, in Embu das Artes (SP). According to the executive, the company has shown significant growth in turnover over the last six years and has gained recognition with some award-winning projects.
In addition, Brazilian companies that offer products and solutions for the electricity sector are also looking for business in Canada. This is the case of Brametal, the largest factory of metallic structures for generation, distribution and transmission of electricity and telecommunication towers, with a manufacturing capacity of 200 thousand tons per year and also the largest testing station in the Americas. “We already export to 15 countries, including the United States, which recognize the quality of our products”, observes Alexandre Schmidt, Sales and Marketing Officer.
The company has been in operation for 47 years and its customers in Brazil include Eletrobras’ companies; the transmission lines of Belo Monte hydroelectric plant, with more than 2,500 kilometers in length, use Brametal’s structures. Recently, the company has added three new products to its catalog: lattice towers for wind turbines, supports for photovoltaic panels and single tube metal towers, also serving the renewable energy market.
Diversification and energy efficiency can go hand in hand
Marcelo Figueiredo, Chairman of Canadian company Progesys, which operates in the area of engineering and management and entered the South American market with the acquisition of the Brazilian company Acttio, emphasizes that investing in energy efficiency does not dispense with the adoption of sustainable energy sources. “Both of them are important and can go hand in hand. The issue is that investments in other energy sources are still usually high and take longer to pay off. But they are essential.”
Figueiredo notes that the investment made in energy efficiency can be linked to future energy diversification projects. The replacement of electric machines with more efficient models can be carried out gradually and planned in such a way that the financial return may be allocated to implement renewable energy systems, such as solar and wind.
According to the executive, many companies still do not prioritize energy efficiency projects due to lack of awareness of the size and speed of return. “Simply replacing incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs can generate up to 90% savings. It is an investment with an immediate return. But many companies still do not pay attention to details like this”, he says.