Q&A Series: Amaro Pereira Shares About His Work and Areas of Opportunity for Renewable Energy in Brazil

Amaro Pereira is an economist and associate professor of the Energy Planning Program (PPE) in the Institute of Graduate Studies in Engineering (COPPE) at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). He has experience in energy and environmental modeling, along with working in the areas of regulation of energy sectors, integration of new technologies and different energy sources on issues related to climate change.


Please describe yourself and your work.

I am an Associate Professor of the Energy Planning Program in the Institute of Graduate Studies in Engineering at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (PPE/COPPE/UFRJ). Additionally, I am a researcher at CentroClima and member of the Permanent Technical Committee of LIFE (Lasting Initiative for Earth) Institute. Previously, I was a technical advisor of the Energy Research Company (EPE) and Visiting Professor at the University Pierre Mendès-France in Grenoble, France and at the University of Texas at Austin, United States. My experience is in energy and environmental modelling, along with regulation of energy sectors, new technologies and climate change issues. 

As an associate professor of the Energy Planning Program at COPPE / UFRJ, what energy projects are you currently working on or interested in?

Currently, I’m involved in a collaboration with the National Institute of Technology Tiruchirappalli, in India, and Tomsk University, in Russia. The project is sponsored by BRICS funds. We are developing waste-to-energy technologies, such as pyrolysis and gasification. The idea is to produce synthetic oils or gases to feed Internal Combustion Engines. These are good options for flexible electricity generation.

Describe your passion for renewable energy and how you have put that to work in your country.

My background is energy modeling and I have been involved in many projects related to climate change. As Brazil is a country with many renewable source options to reduce GHG emissions, the passion for renewable energy was born naturally.

How would you like to see your work implemented on a global scale?

Showing solutions to reduce GHG emissions by deploying renewable energy projects, especially in developing countries.

You have said that one of the greatest areas of opportunity for Brazil’s renewable energy journey is the power sector. What do you mean by this?

First, because more than 60% of the electricity comes from hydro power plants with huge reservoirs which allows the regularization of water inflows and thus complementing the generation from solar and wind power. Also, due to the availability of many other natural resources.

Brazil is improving its flexible technologies, such as hydropower power plants, and investing in battery technology. What are your current hopes for Brazil as it continues on its path to 100 percent renewable energy? For example, what progress do you envision for the region over the next few years?

In our project, we want to present another way to provide flexible generation to complement the intermittence of solar and wind power via synthetic oil produced or gases by waste-to-energy technologies.

Q&A Series: Marina de Abreu Azevedo Shares Her Ideas about the Brazilian Electric Matrix

Azevedo is a doctoral student in the Energy Planning Program at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. She’s a researcher specialized in renewable energy and the Brazilian electric system at Fundação Getúlio Vargas Energy Department. Previously, Azevedo worked as an educational and sales consultant, translator, teacher and earned an internship in Health Safety and Environment (HSE) at the Natural Gas and Energy department at PETROBRAS.


Could you describe yourself and your work?

I’m an environmental engineer who specializes in energy planning. I finished my master’s degree in 2018 and am currently completing my Ph.D. in the Energy Planning Program from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.  

I’m also a researcher at the Center for Energy Studies at Getulio Vargas Foundation. My  renewable energy work there involves projects regarding the expansion of onshore wind in the Brazilian electric matrix, the nationalization potential of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) technologies, energy economics and solar distributed generation. 

What made you want to join the Path to 100%?

I was invited to join Path to 100% by my doctoral supervisor since the topic is related to my thesis. I am excited to be a part of this program and have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world who have similar interests and work towards the same goal as mine: A sustainable energy transition.

Describe your passion for renewable energy and how you have put it into practice in Brazil.

I have dedicated the past 10 years to studying how the world can adapt to a more sustainable place, where development does not have to mean so much hazard and damage to the environment. I intend to keep doing this for the rest of my life. Of course, there are many ways to establish a sustainable path, but I believe that the energy sector has a major role in it, especially with renewable sources, which unlike fossil fuels, still have a major learning curve. More specifically, my thesis research focuses on studying possible 100% renewable scenarios for the Brazilian electric matrix and the social and economical impacts of them.

How would you like to see your work implemented on a global scale?

In general, I believe simply seeing countries transition to a sustainable energy matrix, supported mostly by renewables would already bring many social, economic and environmental benefits. In this context, I think Brazil can be an example to the world, since we face many social challenges and have our own, very complex energy system. 

What do you think are the best areas of opportunity for the renewable energy sector in Brazil?

Brazil is a very rich country in terms of natural resources and biodiversity. We are also a very large country, with a vast territory, big population and a severe social inequality. In turn, these factors bring a great challenge to planners.

I believe the greatest opportunities lie on embracing the country’s variety and the individual characteristics of each region. The energy sector should focus on a diverse portfolio, and the agents should invest on developing tools that value the benefits that each source brings to the system.

More specifically about renewables, Brazil has a great opportunity to serve as an example to the world because we have the potential to incorporate almost every renewable technology at stake on the market. This includes the more conventional renewables, such as onshore wind and solar photovoltaics, but also biodiesels, pumped storage hydros, offshore wind, wave energy, CSP technology, and more.

Now, what do you consider to be the main barriers or challenges Brazil faces on its path to clean and affordable energy?

I believe the biggest barriers we face concerns the low political interests regarding sustainable development and the broad population lack of knowledge on the matter.  To strengthen renewables, it is necessary to have a regulation that supports new technologies in time for them to become competitive. Additionally, we need to promote local generation. In order for that to happen, we need more partnerships between industry, government and academia. 

Finally, how can Brazil lead the way towards 100 percent renewable energy? And what progress do you foresee for the region in the coming years?

Brazil has a very distinguished energy system and a very renewable matrix, which is unusual for a country of its size. We should assess the complementarity between sources and their impacts, as the matrix becomes more intermittent with the continued growth of renewables. Other countries that still have a larger path to pursue for an 100 percent renewables scenario can benefit from our experience.