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nov 07, 2017
Innovation and technology

Brazil unveils its first renewable energy cooperative

As companies move closer to renewable energy sources, Brazil is already making history. This August, the country’s first renewable energy cooperative presented itself, beginning the first of its operations in in Paragominas, Pará.

The group, Brazilian Renewable Energy Cooperative (Coober), was only created in February this year and is made up of 23 members. But it has moved quickly, investing 600,000 BRL in its first project, the newly-opened solar micro-plant. Already, the plant is fully operational and has a capacity of 75 KWp – which the group expects to soon expand.

Within the prototype micro-plant, there are 288 photovoltaic panels. This creates an average production capacity of 11,550 KW/H per month, all of which will be injected into a network system. The energy will be shored up among Coober’s members, and directly discounted in their energy bills.

Moreover, Coober has the support of the National Electric Energy Agency (Aneel), which hopes to stimulate energy generation among consumers in Brazil. Coober’s vice president, environmental lawyer Raphael Sampaio Vale, has high hopes for the plant.

“We are all in the expectation of starting to generate clean electric power itself, without harming nature and without harming the populations that are normally affected by large projects,” Vale told Brazilian media.

The micro-plant provides a feasible model for the global shift to renewable energy, splitting costs and sharing profits for an otherwise sizeable first investment. Coober has the potential to act as a model for energy companies across the world as they made their transition to green energy. Moreover, the project has already been warmly received by Brazilian firms, generating hope for its potential spread.

Coober believes there are several advantages for acting in a cooperative, including lower individual investments, a mobile form of production and a collaborative culture. Additionally, a cooperative mode of production allows for a more flexible approach to problem-solving and decision-making.

Renato Nobile, head of the Organization of Brazilian Cooperatives (OCB), shares Coober’s enthusiasm for the project. He believes that Coober’s model has a huge potential for expansion, and envisions hundreds of similar renewable energy cooperatives throughout Brazil in a matter of years.

Brazil’s renewable energy potential has attracted investors from all over the world. A UK-based private equity firm has invested $900 million in Brazilian wind and solar projects. By 2020, investments in renewable energy should reach $24.5 billion.

“It is a concrete step on a path that has no return, the world’s production matrix will be renewable,” says Renato Nobile. “It affects the environment much less, and is a more viable and affordable economic method.”