Net-metering reforms to boost Brazil’s rooftop solar

15/05/15 | São Paulo

PVTech Magazine 

Brazil’s PV sector is expected to be one of the main beneficiaries of plans by the country’s energy regulator, ANEEL, to revise its net-metering regulations for distributed generation.
The measures are intended to encourage participation in the scheme, which has so far been hindered by various bureaucratic hurdles.
Depending on which revisions are approved, ANEEL forecasts that up to 700,000 consumers could be using the net-metering system by 2024, amounting to 2.7GW of capacity, up from 141,000 consumers and 596MW capacity without the revisions.
In Brazil, individuals are assigned a fiscal ID number known as a CPS, while companies are assigned a
so-called CNPJ. Under current net-metering regulations, credits for electricity can only be compensated under the fiscal ID of the owner of the PV system.
Rodrigo Sauaia, executive director of the Brazilian Solar Industry Association Absolar, told PV Tech that this limitation affects companies which have subsidiaries because they tend to have different fiscal IDs. However, under ANEEL’s proposed revisions, this limitation is likely to be removed.
Similarly, Sauaia said that the proposed revisions will allow people or entities living in shared buildings such as apartment blocks and commercial blocks to be able to share net-metering benefits, instead of needing a separate system for each individual.
Sauaia said: “This is important as it makes the system much more flexible for people and companies in different situations – allowing a broader range of clients.”
“We believe this will allow a significant increase in the potential market for the net-metering scheme especially for PV which now represents between 90-95% of all net-metering installations in the country.”
Furthermore ANEEL plans to increase the scope of all distributed generation systems able to qualify for net metering up to 5MW, an increase on the previous range of just 1MW.
Sauaia said this increase would especially benefit technologies other than solar, which are less versatile in terms of power range, such as co-generation, biomass and hydro power. However he added that it could also be advantageous to big companies interested in PV and large-scale PV rooftop installations, because it allows consumers to get the benefit of scale and reduce the cost per kWh.
ANEEL carried out a study measuring the time it takes for a Brazilian consumer to install a system once it has started procedures with a distribution company. It takes on average 160 days (almost half a year), which is significantly higher than international averages, said Sauaia.
Utilities currently have an 82-day time limit to complete their internal bureaucratic steps before installing the PV system. ANEEL wants to reduce the deadline to just 23 days for systems up to 75kw and 43 days for systems up to 5MW.
Sauaia said this could cut the full 160-day installation average by around half or two thirds. These time savings would increase interest from customers and reduce the average cost of installation
He added: “We are trying to cut the red tape in Brazil, reducing bureaucracy and administration costs – hopefully incentivising use of net metering.”

Sauaia said ANEEL would be holding two public hearings on the revisions including industry associations, companies, government agencies and universities to start on 20 June.
An ABSOLAR statement said: “This is an important step forward. Up until now we only had about installation of about 535 distributed generation systems using the net-metering system of which 500 were PV systems summing a total of around 5-6MW.”
Absolar will be proposing some additional improvements to the regulation including an evaluation of a broader participation of consumers from different configurations of the net-metering scheme, using concepts such as community solar, and virtual net metering.
Finally, Sauaia welcomed the recent ICMStaxexemptionforthreeBrazilianstates, Goias, Pernambuco and Sao Paulo on all distributed generation using the net-metering system in their regions, from 1 September 2015.
At the time, ABSOLAR’s expectation was that other states would also want to join this new trend, and Sauaia claims this could result in the addition of a further 200,000 customers to the net-metering scheme