Venezuela is sending its technicians to Brazil to examine the energy grid, especially how it is interconnected and how Brazil is able to use diverse sources of energy when there are problems with one of them. This after Brazilian technicians visited the country examining the energy situation.
One consequence of the crisis in Venezuela is that the Brazilian state of Roraima is having problems – after all, it gets almost 100% of its electricity from across the border in Venezuela. And that electricity is now being rationed.
Approximately 20% of the electricity has been cut off. However, Brazil has made up the supply deficit with electricity from the Floresta thermoelectric power plant in Boa Vista, the capital of the state.
Brazil has a backup system of thermoelectric power plants that are fired up every time there is a shortfall in the country. The Venezuela technical personnel will want to look closely at that system and how it works.
According to a professor at the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas, the electricity crisis in that country could get worse before it gets better.
Edgard Lander, speaking at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, last week, declared that the next two years will be very difficult. He said the solution was for the Hugo Chavez administration to diversify energy sources.
At the moment, 70% of the electricity used in Venezuela comes from a single hydroelectric power plant, Guri, where water levels are at a historic low.
Lander says the situation is further complicated by waste and a lack of government control over water usage. He adds that the normal rainy season begins in May or June, but with climate change, no one can be certain of that.
Landers also points out that for a long time there was a balance between supply and demand in Venezuela. “For a century there was an abundance of energy resources. But now with the decline in supply, we find there is no backup. That is one of the problems when you are under the illusion that petroleum can solve all your problems.”
Last week the executive secretary of the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy, Márcio Zimermann and the presidential aide for International Affairs, Marco Aurélio Garcia, were in Caracas to see how the Brazilian government can assist Venezuela find a way out of the present crisis.
Since December Chavez has been warning the population about the problem. Over the last few days he has announced rationing plans. The productive sector (industry, etc) has to reduce consumption by 20%, the government is now working only five hours a day.
Landers says it is essential that the population cooperate in the effort. “Of course, this is something that causes problems in the business sector and difficulties in everyday life.”
Landers says the government could use prices to control consumption and they could build thermoelectric power plants as hydroelectric sources in Venezuela are saturated. And, of course, a national campaign against waste.
“Energy in Venezuela is very cheap. Gasoline is almost free. The government does not have policies to control consumption. There is a lot of talk about rational use, but it is only talk. Now I think the alarm has been sounded and heard. The fact is that the petroleum standard of consumption is no longer sustainable,” concluded Landers.