Why isn’t Brazil exploiting its amazing wind capacity?

Fabíola Ortiz – The Guardian, 11/21/2014

Brazil has made huge strides in divesting from fossil fuels. In 2009 the country produced a staggering 85% of its electricity from renewable resources. Nearby Argentina hit just 29.2%, while renewably generated electricity is a scant 19.5% of the world’s supply.

Those impressive figures have been harvested mainly through heavy investment in hydro power, with 75% of its total renewable energy coming from this resource. Meanwhile its potential for wind power has been left largely untouched. At present Brazil invests just $5.42bn (£3.4bn) in wind power despite having a total estimated potential of 300 gigawatts (GW). However, spending on hydropower projects, which have a smaller total energy potential of 260GW, has topped $150bn.

It seems that Brazil has no plans to change the direction of its renewables investments. Headed by the Ministry of Mines and Energy and state-run energy research company Empresa de Pesquisa Energética (EPE), Brazil’s 10-year plan for energy expansion states that installed capacity from hydro will increase from 84.8GW to 119GW by 2022, yet installed capacity for other renewables (small hydroelectric, biomass and wind) will rise from 15.3GW to 38.1GW in the same time period.

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Brazil to Approve $275 Million for River Water Diversion

Vanessa Dezem – Bloomberg, 11/12/2014

Brazil’s government is close to approving 700 million reais ($275 million) in aid for a project that would divert river water from Rio de Janeiro to help refill Sao Paulo’s biggest reservoir. Cia. de Saneamento Basico do Estado de Sao Paulo, which provides water to the city, will use the money to send it from the Paraiba do Sul River to the Cantareira reservoir, a project that will take about 15 months to complete, Water Resources Secretary Mauro Arce said today in interview in Sao Paulo.

Sao Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin met this week with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to seek aid to help tackle the water crisis in the state, facing the worst drought in eight decades. The diversion from the Jaguari dam is one of eight projects Alckmin said that Sao Paulo needs, at a cost of 3.5 billion reais.

“We are going to have a meeting to finish technical details and we are going to ask for financing from the Planning Ministry,” Arce told reporters. “Taking off five cubic meters per second from Paraiba do Sul won’t disturb Rio de Janeiro’s population.”

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Brazil begins laying its own Internet cables to avoid U.S. surveillance

Nancy Scola – The Washington Post, 11/03/2014

There’s a new wrinkle in Brazil’s plan to build a $185 million undersea fiber-optic cable that would connect it to Portugal and help the country avoid surveillance by U.S. intelligence authorities, reports Bloomberg: The cable will be built without the help of any U.S. companies.

While Brazil arguably led the world’s outrage over the Edward Snowden disclosures, its ire has mellowed a bit in recent months. But that Brazilian authorities are still talking about a U.S.-free undersea link to Europe only underscores something that may be especially destructive to U.S. tech companies: Once you write foreign policy into fiber-optic cables, it stays that way for a long, long time.

To be sure, under President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil reacted strongly negatively, in ways big and little, to the Snowden disclosures in September 2013: Rousseff railed at the United Nations  about Brazil’s commitment to “redouble its efforts to adopt legislation, technologies and mechanisms to protect us from the illegal interception of communications and data.”

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Brazil gives go-ahead to 31 solar parks in push for new energy

Marcelo Teixeira – Reuters, 10/31/2014

Brazil finally entered the solar power sector on Friday, granting contracts for the construction of 31 solar parks as it tries to diversify its sources of generation amid an energy crisis caused by the worst drought in eight decades.

Brazil’s energy regulator, Aneel, concluded its first exclusive solar power auction on Friday, clinching 20-year energy supply contracts with companies that will invest 4.14 billion reais ($1.67 billion) and start to feed the national grid in 2017.

The 31 solar parks, the first large-scale solar projects to be constructed in Brazil, will have a combined installed capacity of 1,048 megawatts (MW). Market expectations were for projected total awards of 500 MW.

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Brazil Builds Internet Cable To Portugal To Avoid NSA Surveillance

Kathleen Caulderwood – International Business Times, 11/1/2014

Brazil is building a cable across the Atlantic to escape the reach of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). The move is one of many ways the Brazilian government is breaking ties with American technology companies — but it won’t come cheap.

The 3,500-mile fiber-optic cable will stretch from Fortaleza to Portugal, with an estimated cost of $185 million, Bloomberg reported. Of course, none of this will go to American vendors.

Last year, Edward Snowden leaked documents that showed the NSA was accessing personal information of Brazilian citizens, including listening to phone calls of President Dilma Rousseff, its embassies and the state-owned oil company Petrobras.

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At Brazil auto show, industry wonders if it can get any worse

Brad Haynes and Albert Alerigi – Reuters, 10/29/2014

Automakers in Brazil are facing the sharpest slowdown since 1999 and it could be a year or more before things turn the corner.

It is tough to find a sunny 2015 forecast at the Sao Paulo Auto Show this week, where companies accustomed to a market growing by double digits are now considering three straight years of declining sales.

“It looks like the market is in for a difficult time until 2016,” said Koji Kondo, Toyota Motor Corp’s (7203.T) chief executive in Brazil, citing labor costs, rising taxes and infrastructure bottlenecks as a persistent problem. “It’s hard for Brazil’s economic conditions to recover in the short term.”

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Google, Microsoft Expose Brazil’s Favelas

Will Connors – The Wall Street Journal, 9/25/2014

For decades, favelas, the dense working-class neighborhoods that now house nearly a quarter of this city’s population, didn’t exist on city maps.

Officials considered the informal settlements dangerous eyesores, and they refused to send in cartographers or provide official addresses. But frustrated residents began mapping the communities themselves, hoping to pressure authorities into providing more public services.

Now those efforts are getting a boost from two of the world’s biggest technology companies. Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. have started mapping efforts in recent months in several Rio favelas. Relying largely on community groups, the companies plan to map everything from twisting, narrow alleyways to hole-in-the-wall laundromats.

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