One of the key players in Brazil’s early history of electric power was the Canadian group Light, and the future of the industry may also be connected to companies based in Canada. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Light Group was responsible for providing energy along with the Rio-São Paulo hub, even offering trams and telephone services. Now, illuminated by the digital age, Canadian and Brazilian companies in the segment are turning their spotlight on data and artificial intelligence, seeking more efficient and sustainable projects.
The similarities between the two countries do not end there. Both are countries of continental size and deal with challenges such as maintaining long-distance transmission lines. They are, alongside the US, the largest electricity producers in the Americas and rank among the five nations with the highest capacity to produce energy from hydroelectric plants – with less environmental impact than thermal ones. In all, over 60% of Brazil and Canada’s production comes from hydroelectric dams.
In the short term, this relationship may become even closer. According to Laura Netto, Trade Commissioner of the Canadian Consulate in Rio de Janeiro, this is a very favorable time for new business between the two countries. “There are many companies buying others that need to renovate their technology parks and infrastructure,” he says. In recent years, Energisa has acquired a number of distributors. In 2018, the Italian company Enel bought Eletropaulo, and the energy sector hit its third-highest rise in mergers and acquisitions in the last 20 years. There are also high expectations related to the privatization of Eletrobras.
New technologies: agility in maintenance and efficiency gains
In October, the Consulate promoted a trade mission that led representatives of Brazilian companies to meet Canadian organizations, universities, and innovation centers. The agenda of the meeting involved visits to leading international companies such as HydroQuebec and institutions such as Montreal-based Mila, one of the world’s leading references in artificial intelligence.
“Canada has a consolidated network that fosters technology. The country is a leader in telecommunications and IT, key areas for the development of software and equipment for the energy sector,” says Laura. She recalls that Brazil also has important experiences to add to the debates in the industry. The National Electric System Operator (ONS) is among the largest in the world. “A fully integrated system that enables the consumption in Manaus of energy generated in Itaipu,” she exemplifies.
Learn about some of the key technologies presented in the mission:
It’s not a video game, but it does have a joystick
Linescout is a robot developed by HydroQuebec to inspect transmission lines, making it easy to conduct maintenance in environments that are difficult to reach, such as high towers between rivers and dense vegetation. Linescout identifies short circuits and checks the condition of cables and equipment. If necessary, an employee uses a remote joystick to guide the robot and repair the wires, which do not have to be turned off during the repairs.
The waters will roll
Water Rotor is a turbocharged turbine powered by NASA that drives water from rivers and streams with extremely low flows. Its manufacturer claims that it is “the first technology to collect electricity cheaply and affordably from slow-moving water,” which covers 71% of the planet. This innovation can benefit 1.2 billion people who don’t have access to electricity and more than 800 million who rely on high-cost energy from fossil fuels. The company estimates a market of USD 100 billion.
Predicting transformer problems
A sensor developed by Zensol Automation that is positioned on the outside of the transformer. The technology identifies the need for maintenance before the equipment stops working. By issuing warnings to a service technician for proper repairs, it avoids more serious cases such as transformer overflow or fires.
The commercial mission brought together in Canada the companies Energisa, Taesa, Furnas, Equatorial, Empresa de Pesquisa Energética, and Romagnole. It was promoted by the Canadian Consulate in Brazil together with the federal government of Canada, the province of Ontario, the province of Quebec, and the Canadian Export Credit Agency.