Subsidies to pay for the so-called distributed generation, the one generated by smaller producers —such as homes or offices—, usually close to the place of consumption, will exceed R$ 5.4 billion in the electricity bill next year. The projection is from Aneel (National Electric Energy Agency).
Although distributed generation includes different types of projects and sources, the most relevant is photovoltaic or solar. The agency calculation includes two different costs.
There will be about R$ 4 billion in subsidies for old projects and for those that will be registered until January 6, 2023. This cost will forever be incorporated into the energy tariff.
The account also includes a preliminary estimate of an additional BRL 1.4 billion for projects due to be presented in 2023 after January 6th. These amounts will be transferred to the CDE (Energy Development Account), an item in the electricity bill.
The final value tends to be higher, since they are projections and do not consider the variation of the IPCA, the official inflation index. PSR, a company specializing in energy, for example, projects that the values of distributed generation transferred to the CDE in 2023 may be above R$ 2 billion.
By 2028, when this subsidy expires, more than BRL 35 billion will be in the electricity bill, according to the consultancy’s estimates.
“This is a heavy subsidy”, says consultant Ângela Gomes, who follows the topic on PSR.
PRICE FOR NOT TAXING THE SUN
The billion-dollar subsidy for solar energy is the result of the campaign against “taxing the sun”, which became very popular and sensitized even President Jair Bolsonaro (PL). In practice, however, “not taxing the sun” has pushed the expense of the generator for the use of wire in the distribution network onto consumers. Technically, this is the use of the so-called Wire B, a part of the Tusd (Tariff for the Use of Distribution Systems).
Solar distributed generation is mainly used by high-income families, able to afford the installation of the systems, as well as by large supermarket, retail and even banks.
“The subsidy for solar energy is one of the most socially unfair in the country,” says energy consultant Ricardo Lima. “The consumer connected to the distributor, who does not have the financial conditions to have a photovoltaic system, pays on his electricity bill for the costs that would be for the richest and the companies.”
The new rules for subsidies are set out in Law 14,300, enacted at the beginning of the year and named the new legal framework for microgeneration and distributed minigeneration.
Under the transition rule, projects submitted in 2022 could be fully exempted. Projects referring to 2023 will have to pay 15% of the wire, and the difference, the 75%, goes to the electricity bill.
The percentage paid by the generator will progressively increase: 30% (from 2024), 45% (2025), 60% (2026), 75% (2027) and 90% (2028). Therefore, the tendency of investors is to try to register projects in the first years, to guarantee a lower cost with Wire B.
The amount that falls on the electricity bill varies according to the number of projects installed in the area of each distributor. That is, the bill is higher in states or regions where there are more distributed generation projects.
SOLAR FOR THE POOR
Aneel also established that the public hearing process begins this Thursday (27) and runs until December 12 to regulate the legal framework for distributing generation. During this period, it will be possible to present suggestions to improve the law.
The Polis Institute, in association with other social entities, will take advantage of the round of discussions to try to improve low-income consumers’ access to solar energy, via the Renewable Energy Program, which frees up resources for the installation of systems.
According to Clauber Leite, energy coordinator at the Pólis Institute, the law restricted access to the poorest. Within the program, low-income consumers can only install systems limited to their own consumption, without generating surplus.
“There’s a lot of space for installing systems in affordable housing, and that needs to be taken advantage of,” says Leite. “We are going to propose the release for the best use of all the potential in these areas, expanding the access of the most vulnerable layers.”