The Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) announced on April 23 that it will make an initial investment of BRL 386 million (or USD 70.3 million) in the development of clean energy for the remote communities on the Marajó Archipelago, which is situated at the mouth of the Amazon River.
According to the statement from the MME, the investment will be used to build solar projects and transmission infrastructure. Once completed, the solar projects will provide power to more than 50,000 people living in the municipalities of Portel, Curralinho, and Melgaço that are within the state of Pará.
Last year, the Brazilian government launched “Mais Luz para an Amazonia” (MLA). It is a program to develop solutions related to clean energy and distributed generation for the off-grid communities in the Amazon. The investment that has just been announced by the MME will be channeled through the MLA program and the “Eletrificaco Rural” program. Also, the solar projects on the Marajó Archipelago will be developed in partnership with local utility Equatorial Pará Distribuidora de Energia SA. The first phase of project development is scheduled for completion in December 2022.
In addition to Pará, the Brazilian states that share a part of the Amazon Basin include Amapá, Amazonas, Rondônia, Roraima, Tocantins, Mato Grosso, and Maranhão. The MLA program targets the communities in these states and is expected to meet the power demand of around 70,000 families.
In the recent years, the Brazilian government has taken a pro-development approach to the management of its part of the Amazon Basin. It has also downplayed the seriousness of climate change. Nevertheless, the country has a long history of developing alternative sources of energy such as ethanol and relies on hydropower for much of its electricity generation. With the effects of global warming and the deforestation of the Amazon becoming increasingly visible, solar PV and wind power will play a vital role in meeting the energy demand of Brazilians, regardless of the government’s official policy position.
As reported by Reuters last year, ABSOLAR, which is a major PV industry group in Brazil, said that investments in the domestic distributed generation market tripled to BRL 16 billion between 2019 and 2020. The outlook of the country’s PV sector remains very bullish.