Brazil’s National Electricity System Operator (ONS) reported a new record of consumption this past Thursday: at 3:00 pm the country was using a grand total of 70.4 gigawatts. In fact, records were set on three consecutive days. In 2009, the record was 67.4 gigawatts on Nov 26.
Meanwhile, the director of Gas and Energy at Petrobras, Graça Foster, says she was aware of the record levels of demand and acted accordingly by ordering thermoelectric power plants into operation.
Foster says 3.2 gigawatts of electricity are being generated by thermoelectric power plants to keep up with demand. They also keep the rest of the system from overheating.
Here is a breakdown of the situation Thursday: Brazilian hydroelectric power plants were furnishing almost 80% of supply; the Itaipu binational power plant over 12%; the nuclear power plants, Angra I and II, 3.3%; thermoelectric power plants slightly over 4%; and wind power 0.3%.
Foster explains that consumption is up for a number of reasons. First, there is the heat; people want to cool off in the Brazilian summertime. Then, there has been some upward social mobility and as lower-income families buy more durable goods, they are using them.
Industrial consumption has also risen. The international financial crisis was a drag on the Brazilian economy in the first half of 2009, but business slowly picked up in the latter half of the year.
And January industrial output, normally a little sluggish after the holiday season, has been surprisingly strong.