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Article #1
The role of materials in the energy transition

It's all about mining and processing

 

The shift to low-carbon renewable energy (RE) solutions to limit global warming has been in the headlines for decades, although it has intensified in recent years due to the severe environmental impacts and geopolitical issues.

The bills are on the table! If no action is taken, climate change losses will top 5% of global GDP each year (peaking 18-20% in the worst-case scenario). Instead, the costs of reducing GHG emissions to avoid the worst impacts can be limited to around 1% of global GDP each year.

After relying on a basket of fossil fuels, from wood to gas, passing through coal and oil, the humankind “found” the energy from sun and wind, to put simple. These two primary clean energy sources, complementary to each other, widespread and abundant on earth, can be converted into a secondary form, the electricity, sine qua non for the energy transition.

Nevertheless, the transformation of the energy sector, imposed by processes of decarbonization, decentralization and digitalization, brought technical, economic, and regulatory challenges that need to be overcome quickly as time is running out. In fact, the great uncertainty concerns the speed of this transformation.

One of the main technical challenges occurs when RE exceeds that provided by conventional synchronous generators in a grid section. The lack of rotating mass inertia of solar PV and wind power generation units can lead to system instabilities. By using advanced power electronics and control algorithms, these inverter-based resources (IBR), when ideally paired with storage, can emulate inertia by quickly detecting frequency deviations and respond to system imbalances.

A new paradigm

 

Curiously, clean energy transition relies no more on a fuel, as seen before, but in materials.  More precisely, a net-zero economy will be metal-intensive. So, new energy-trade patterns are strongly related to the occurrence of critical mineral deposits, extraction capacity, raw material refining expertise, and material processing. A real game changing!

A critical mineral is defined as a non-fuel mineral or mineral material essential to the strategy, economy, and security of a nation, with high-risk associated with its supply chain. Ok, but what and where are they? Who owns the mining and refining technologies? What about starting with a short list of machines/equipment associated with the green transition? Here it is: solar panels, wind turbines, electric motors, electrolyzers, fuel cells, and batteries!

full article coming soon...

Is Brazil ready for the energy transition?

“Only renewables are truly sustainable; that’s why the future belongs to them[1]

 

Brazil stands out among the largest economies in terms of renewable energy.

 

In 2021, 44.7% of the Brazilian energy mix came from renewable sources, while the share of renewables in the electricity mix stood at 78.1%. Brazil leads wind and solar PV power growth in Latin America, adding 26.7% of wind and 55.9% of solar PV in 2021 alone[2], for a total of 20.7 GW and 13.7 GW (CG + DG) of installed capacity, respectively[3].

Biomass also plays an important role in the Brazilian energy mix, producing ethanol, demonstrating the country's flex fuel competence, and electricity, mainly from the burning of sugarcane bagasse, contributing about 8% to the country electricity mix in 2021 and 27% of total thermoelectric generation[2].

Brazil’s electric energy (EE) production and transmission is a large and widespread system, with predominance of hydropower plants of multiple owners. Such interconnected system, formally “SIN-Sistema Interligado Nacional" (AKA “Basic Grid”), provides the transfer of energy between subsystems, allows synergistic gains, and explores the diversity between the hydrological regimes of basins, serving the market in a safe, efficient and economical way[4].

As a powerhouse in terms of water resources, the country ended 2021 with a total electricity installed capacity of around 181 GW, of which 60% (109 GW) comes from hydropower. However, hydropower plants, branded by their great storage capacity, should reduce its relative share to 46% by 2031[5], giving way to non-conventional RE sources, which, in turn, are branded by their temporal variability.

In 2031, Brazil is expected to i) be the 5th largest oil exporter, with 80% of it coming from the pre-salt, ii) have about 40% of EE installed capacity from DG, and iii) add one more nuclear power plant besides Angra 3 (still in construction). Investments in 2021-2031 period is forecasted to reach BRL 3.25 tri, 84% in O&G and 16% in EE generation[5].

Latety, the Ministry of Mines and Energy´s (MME) Decree 10,946/2022 allowed the exploration of offshore wind farms, widening investment opportunities in Brazil. The country has a wind power technical potential of around 700 GW in places with depths of up to 50 m[6], with higher wind speeds than onshore. With almost 7,500 km of coastline and rich offshore wind resources, Brazil is set to lead the development of offshore wind in LA[7].

Additionally, the continental nation is well-positioned to become a major worldwide exporter of green hydrogen (GH2), mainly to Europe, thanks to its climatic conditions and logistics infrastructure[8]. Known for its versatility in sector coupling and to decarbonize hard-to-abate industries, GH2 will be produced in Brazil mainly from water electrolysis using excess electricity from RE sources.

The rebound of Covid-19 and the ongoing Ukraine conflict result in a tightening of monetary conditions and a slowdown in the global economy. Despite the global financial deterioration, Brazil can place itself as part of the solution, providing food and green energy to the world[9].

References

[1] https://www.ips-journal.eu/interviews/we-need-a-master-plan-for-energy-policy-in-europe-6083/

[2] https://www.absolar.org.br/mercado/infografico/

[3] https://www.epe.gov.br/sites-pt/publicacoes-dados-abertos/publicacoes/PublicacoesArquivos/publicacao-675/topico-631/BEN_S%C3%ADntese_2022_PT.pdf

[4] http://www.ons.org.br/paginas/sobre-o-sin/o-que-e-o-sin

[5] https://www.epe.gov.br/sites-pt/publicacoes-dados-abertos/publicacoes/Documents/PDE%202031_RevisaoPosCP_rvFinal.pdf

[6]  https://www.marinha.mil.br/agenciadenoticias/amazonia-azul-possui-grande-potencial-para-geracao-de-energia-eolica

[7] https://cleanenergynews.ihsmarkit.com/research-analysis/brazilian-offshore-wind-sector-reaches-the-runway.html

[8] https://www.giz.de/en/worldwide/91779.html

[9] https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2022/04/26/tr042622-transcript-of-western-hemisphere-department-press-briefing

Centro Oeste

(Portuguese only)

O Centro-Oeste (CO), região administrativa definida pelo IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística) em 1969, é uma das cinco regiões da República Federativa do Brasil, o 5º país do mundo em extensão territorial, ocupando 47,3% da América do Sul, e o 6º em população, com 211,7 milhões de habitantes.

Compreendendo cerca de 18.86% do território Brasileiro, e com área superior à do conjunto França, Espanha, Alemanha e Inglaterra, o CO é formado por três estados, Goiás (GO), Mato Grosso (MT) e Mato Grosso do Sul (MS), e pelo Distrito Federal (DF), onde se localiza Brasília, capital do país, sede do governo do DF e Patrimônio Cultural da Humanidade pela UNESCO. O CO é a mais interiorana das regiões e a única a fazer fronteira com todas as demais, justificando a sua vocação para as atividades logísticas.

Um dos aspectos mais marcantes da região é o seu relevo, formado majoritariamente por planaltos, onde destaca-se o Planalto Central, um grande bloco rochoso, formado por rochas cristalinas, sobre as quais se apoiam camadas de rochas sedimentares.

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Goiás

(Portuguese only)

O estado de Goiás apresenta posição geográfica privilegiada (região Centro-Oeste), ocupando 340.106 km2 distribuídos entre 246 municípios. Com clima tropical, duas estações são bem definidas: verão úmido (setembro a abril, com 1.200 a 2.500 mm) e inverno seco, com temperaturas médias entre 18o e 26oC. Possui taxa de urbanização de 90% e IDHM de 0,76, indicando boa longevidade, educação e renda.

 

Goiás tem o setor de serviços como pilar de sua economia, porém é líder em produção de commodities agrícolas e medicamentos genéricos. Destaca-se a indústria de alimentos e bebidas, mineração, fármacos, etanol, e a indústria automotiva. É o 4o produtor nacional de grãos com 22,815 milhões de toneladas (9,5% da produção de grãos do país). A pauta agrícola é bastante diversificada destacando a soja, sorgo, milho, cana-de-açúcar, feijão e tomate.

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Brasil / Goiás
Aspectos Econômicos

(Portuguese only)

O Produto Interno Bruto (PIB) mundial ficou em US$86 tri e o Brasileiro em US$1,85 tri, cerca de 2% do PIB mundial. A produção industrial Brasileira correspondeu a 2,1% da produção industrial mundial, porém contribuiu com apenas 0,82% das exportações totais de produtos industrializados.


O PIB Brasileiro de US$1,85 tri (Goiás, US$48,7 bi) resultou em um PIB per capita nacional de US$8,8 mil (Goiás, US$6,9 mil). O PIB industrial brasileiro foi de US$391 bi (Goiás, US$12,8 bi),
resultando em um PIB industrial per capita nacional de US$1,86 mil (Goiás, US$1,84 mil). 

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Sphere on Spiral Stairs
We've got corporations and investors who are now saying, I'm no longer investing in fossil fuels, period. It doesn't matter who is in office
Parallel Lines

Are you ready for energy transition?

Under Construction

Halftone Image of Crowd

In a no action scenario, the overall costs and risks of climate change will be equivalent to losing at least  5% OF GLOBAL GDP  each year (reaching up to 20%). In contrast, the costs of action – to reduce GHG emissions to avoid the worst impacts – can be limited to around 1% OF GLOBAL GDP each year

Ref.: Stern Review: The Economics of Climate Change