In the past decades, Brazil hasmoved froma position among developing countries to a key position as aBRIC1 country, member of theG202, and soon the sixth largest economy in theworld.3 Behind theBrazilian economicmiracle, a number of specific efforts have been particularly important.This includes the efforts towards industrialization started in the 1930s, modernization of agriculture started mainly after the 1960s, and stronger integration of the country with the global economy after the mid-1980s. Political stability and economic growth has led to unprecedented poverty reduction particularly after the turn of the last century (OECD, 2011). More recently, Brazil has also emerged as a major scientific nation, a development that is gaining speed with increasing efforts towards more innovation (Adams and Christopher, 2009). In addition, energy provision and use, and the transformation of the Brazilian energy system have served as an important pillar for the great economic transformation that the country has undergone. In energy terms, Brazil has gone from strong dependency on traditional biomass to a diversi-
fied and modern energy matrix within less than half a century. In 1950, Brazil was still largely dependent on traditional biomass for energy purposes, and only larger cities had access to electricity (Fig. 4.1). In fact, some 80% of the energy used in the country was based on traditional biomass technologies. By the turn of the century, the country’s energy consumption had increased manifold, but then relying on modern and innovative energy systems largely based on renewable energy sources. Brazil is now rapidly approaching full electricity coverage thanks to recent efforts prioritizing universal coverage (MME, 2012; Gomez and Silveira, 2011). The strong reliance on renewable energy sources observed in the Brazilian energy matrix
differentiates it from most countries. The common rule in the past decades has been that, as countries became richer and more industrialized, they increased their dependency on fossil fuels. In developing countries, such a development has gone hand in handwith the abandonment ofwood fuel in favor of more efficient fuels and technologies (Silveira, 2005). As a result, many countries are trapped in imports of costly fossil fuels and unsustainable energy paths. Unfortunately, this path is still the most common despite an increasing understanding about the need to deploy sustainable alternatives. Also rich countries such as the G7 which, given their wealth, could have chosen to evolve in a more sustainable direction have not done so in the past decades, and remain largely dependent on fossil fuels. The Brazilian experience shows that it is possible to evolve in a different way, alsowhen starting
from low levels of economic development. Although Brazil did not manage to prevent continuous increase in oil demand due to the rapid expansion of its economy and the development priorities chosen, it has managed to modernize the energy sector and diversify the energy sources of the
1BRIC is an acronym refering to the countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China, which are considered as being in an advanced stage of economic development. 2G20 Refers to the group of 20 major economies: 19 countries plus the European Union. Together, the G-20 economies comprise more than 80% of the global gross national product (GNP). 3https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17272716.