The Energy Information Administration reports that Brazil, which largely relies on hydropower for electricity generation, met 66% of its electricity demand in 2020 from that source, despite the fact that wind and solar generation have grown quickly in recent times and had a combined 11% share of the country’s electricity generation in the same year. Biomass accounted for an 8% share. Fossil fuel-fired plants made up another 12%, while nuclear power accounted for 2%.
Most of Brazil’s hydropower capacity is located north in the Amazon River Basin, but electricity demand centres are mainly along the eastern coast, particularly in the south. National electricity reliability is challenged because of the country’s reliance on the one resource, the great distances between hydropower generation and demand centres, continued drought conditions, and deforestation.
Brazil aims to increase domestic natural gas production to help diversify its generation mix. Brazil has at least 34 natural gas fired power plants with a total generating capacity of 11 026 MW. Natural gas production in the country has been growing as Brazil develops its huge offshore natural gas reserves, most of which are concentrated in the south off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. Brazil also imports natural gas by pipeline from Bolivia and as liquefied natural gas primarily from the United States, Trinidad and Tobago, and Nigeria.
Brazil’s two nuclear reactors, Angra 1 and Angra 2, are located between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The units have a combined capacity of 1884 MW, and they supplied 14.1 billion kWh to those two cities in 2020. A third nuclear reactor, Angra 3, is currently under construction. It is expected to be completed between 2026 and 2027 and has a generating capacity of 1340 MW.
Non-hydro renewables are the fastest growing technologies in Brazil’s generation mix. With 4600 miles of windy coastline, Brazil has abundant wind resources. Wind capacity in Brazil, which totalled 17 198 MW in 2020, is growing as new projects come online. One of these projects, Lagoa dos Ventos, began commercial operations in June 2021 and is the largest wind farm in South America. Although solar still represents a small share of the country’s generation mix, it more than doubled between 2018 and 2020, from 3.5 billion kWh to 6.7 billion kWh.
In the Brazilian government's latest 10-year plan, it forecasts that renewable sources will account for most of the additions to installed power capacity expansion by 2030. The largest forecast addition will come from solar.