Mario Ruiz-Tagle: Electric Mobility is here to stay

    sustainability; mobility

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Por Mario Ruiz-Tagle*

As we face the challenges of fighting climate change with the mission of decarbonizing the economy, the first step is to change the way we understand mobility.  Comprehending this concept allows us to understand the promising scenario ahead. The sale of electric cars has grown annually by more than 50% in the last five years, reaching 10% of light vehicles sold in Europe in 2020.  By 2019, the Brazilian municipalities with the most units were São Paulo (4,041), Brasilia (1,086), Rio de Janeiro (991), and Curitiba (761), and the increase in electric vehicle registrations was 66.5% when comparing 2020 to 2019.  This shows that, in Brazil, the electric vehicle is here to stay.

Even in the face of a transportation matrix that is cleaner than the world average, with the strong presence of biofuels, Brazil must follow the new global technological standard due to the obsolescence of combustion engines. Many manufacturers have declared that they will stop producing vehicles in this format by 2030, which will accelerate the transformation of the industry.

With the electrification of transportation, i.e., the increased use of vehicles fueled by electricity rather than by traditional fossil fuels such as diesel, natural gas, and gasoline, the electric sector should assume a fundamental role in the decarbonization of the economy, stimulating the energy transition. It is a challenge that responds to the demands of the world's population and of the younger people who demand investments in renewable energies and the promotion of a sustainable future.

We must recognize the relevance of companies, in partnership with society, to ensure the growth of a clean economy. The use of electric cars, buses and trucks reduces gas emissions, especially in urban centers, contributing to decarbonization. Data from the United Nations (UN) Electric Mobility Program indicate that the means of transportation represent 25% of all CO2 emissions in the world. Thus, I believe that fleet electrification will be the future of rural and urban vehicular mobility.

We, from Neoenergia, contribute to this advance by creating projects such as the so-called Green Corridors, which are stretches of electric roads distributed throughout the Brazilian territory, with charging stations for electric vehicles that travel along these roads. We are delivering the largest electrical corridor in Brazil, linking Salvador to Natal, over a distance of 1,100 kilometers along the Northeast coast. With this, we will offer the population a modern service based on a sustainable business model that encourages electric mobility not only within large cities, but connecting states and regions.  We are aware of the challenges that the electric stations bring to the electric grid.  The time and speed of recharging are critical to the viability of these initiatives, as well as making them massive.

We invest in solutions that serve these cars, creating the necessary infrastructure for recharging the fleets. In its own experience in encouraging the use of emission-free cars, the company has had an electric vehicle and the first solar energy station on the island of Fernando de Noronha since 2016, and has begun the process of expanding the number of vehicles, including an electric bus, and two recharging electric stations on the archipelago. By 2030 all combustion-powered vehicles must leave the island.

We use electric-powered cars at the regional and administrative bases, with recharging points, and more than 95% of the executive vehicles are hybrids and our first electric truck for the maintenance of distribution grids is in the development phase. We have several opportunities to advance the technology in Brazil, such as the infrastructure of the electric stations, which can be supplied either by the energy distribution grid or by solutions such as mini wind power generation facilities or photovoltaic plates and batteries.

It is important to highlight that for the advancement of electric mobility in Brazil it is key to establish a regulatory framework that ensures the business environment for the investments required for the electrification of the transportation segment. It is necessary a set of public policies to encourage the manufacture of vehicles, providing tax reductions and more attractive values. This would guarantee the viability of this clean technology and increase the participation of people and companies in the acquisition of these cars.

Neoenergia is focused on promoting energy transformation and recognizes electric mobility as one of the pillars for this to happen. We are studying ways to actively participate in the vehicular recharging market, following a global trend of being a platform of integrated services and solutions for customers. Although it may seem so, this is not a distant dream.  Just like what happened with wind energy, which 20 years ago seemed like a far-off idea. We have enough energy volume, in some seasons, to supply the entire Northeast.

Brazil needs to take advantage of its huge solar photovoltaic and wind energy potential to develop these mobility technologies. In a few months we will inaugurate the Chafariz Wind Complex in the Sertão (Hinterlands) of Paraíba. Our wind undertaking will be a driver of this transformation and prepares us for the new energy needs that electric mobility brings.

The modernization of the Brazilian electric matrix is necessary, such as the use of battery banks operating in conjunction with renewable energies.  Incorporating new technologies is a fundamental choice.  It is necessary to work with anticipation, joining initiatives so that the planet's preservation becomes a reality by 2050, as suggested by the UN in its SDGs.

The medium- and long-term strategies will take us to the same destination in the near future. I believe that this turning point is already happening and our work and investments will be the accelerators of the great changes that are to come.

*Artigo escrito por Mario Ruiz-Tagle, CEO da Neoenergia

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