“Electric mobility is here to stay”, says Mario Ruiz-Tagle, CEO of Neoenergia during the live broadcast for the launching the Green Corridor



Neoenergia announced on Wednesday (9/12) the inauguration of the Green Corridor, the largest electric road in Brazil, which will connect the capitals of Salvador (BA) to Natal (RN). In a live broadcast held by Valor Econômico newspaper, the company's CEO, Mario Ruiz-Tagle, defended the growth of electric mobility in Brazil, as a strategy for decarbonization. "This is a trend that is here to stay," he said. The live broadcast was mediated by Natália Tamura and included the participation of energy expert David Zylbersztajn and economist Eduardo Ávila. Check out the main topics covered:

Valor: What is the Green Electric Mobility Corridor, inaugurated by Neoenergia?

Mario Ruiz-Tagle: The Green Corridor is an initiative aimed to facilitate electric mobility, create culture to be able to facilitate and bring to the Northeast a very important element, which is the electric vehicle. It is a means of mobility by which people today are looking to contribute individually to this energy transition. It is the largest electric corridor in Brazil, and will connect the capital of Bahia, Salvador, to Natal, a distance of 1,100 kilometers along the coast of the Northeast region. Initially, we will operate in six of the nine states in the Northeast. We are working with 18 electric stations, called super chargers, which allow you to charge two vehicles at the same time in 30 minutes. It is a little more extensive than a normal stop that people makes to rest on a road. Our goal is to test our own fleet. Since March 2020, the group has started to work mainly with electric vehicles and electric trucks to serve our customers. We will carry out the test during 2021 and from 2022 onwards, we will offer the electric stations to the population and be able to create a model of economic generation to foster electric mobility with electric vehicles.

Valor: What is Neoenergia's goal when investing in electric mobility?

Mario Ruiz-Tagle: The Green Corridor is a action that aims to facilitate electric mobility. What is our purpose with that? Contributing, within what the electric sector considers to have a great factor, a product of its own network structure, so that the combustion vehicles, currently using oil, to migrate to zero carbon emissions. The first step was Brazil's ethanol program, the great biofuel program. Before talking about zero emission, we should not forget that we went through biofuels. We had a very short discussion over time, due to the speed of technological advances, because others emerged that proved to be more efficient and captured this niche that biofuels had. Today, this is essentially wind and solar generation. In the beginning, in 2004, there was talks in Brazil of a great biofuel program for burning ethanol in plants in the countryside. This program was evidently overtaken by the technological advancement of wind power. Wind power, 20 years ago, was a dream and nowadays it has a volume of energy that is already sufficient in some moments to supply the entire Northeast, a region that was naturally an energy importer and has become an energy exporter. In addition, we have distributed generation, which is a major contribution to the democratization of electric energy. This enables micro-networks and the delivery of energy to people who are currently in need of this service. We have developed at Neoenergia the largest Luz para Todos (Light for All) program in Brazil, connecting people over the past few years. We have used this type of technology and it has proven to be successful.

Valor: How can electric mobility grow in Brazil?

Mario Ruiz-Tagle: We all have to bet, industries, business people, entrepreneurs and the population, in addition to the government, with tax policy and regulation. This is a trend that is here to stay. Brazil has a renewable mindset, a green thinking, a green and yellow flag and we must use this in the world. It is a wealth that Brazil has.

Valor: How do you see the concept of the 3 “Ds” of energy: decarbonization, decentralization and digitalization?

Mario Ruiz-Tagle: We have already worked hard to develop this 3D concept. But we also want to discuss two issues that are fundamental today. One is the concept of energy efficiency. Clean energy is the cleanest we can generate, but the cleanest is that we don't use and that we don't intervene in the environment. The population and industries need to become aware of the importance of energy efficiency, of the importance of ending energy waste. It is very important to reduce the cost that energy will represent, a very important percentage of the energy that each consumer pays today is the one that is lost, the one that remains in the equipment connected at night, in the inefficient refrigerators. We have advanced a lot on the concept of the letter "E". And now the letter "F" (for financing). There are no longer any investors willing to allocate resources to build infrastructure that generates impacts on the environment.

Every day more consumers are concerned about the source of the product they buy. Today, for example, large suppliers make very subtle but important inquiries: will the product I am selling to you be implemented in an area that has been deforested, is it a biosphere reserve, does it have a particular aspect of preserving the environment? Nobody wants and we want it less. We, promoters of the construction of energy projects, do not want to be the authors or the visible face of a phenomenon that goes against our own philosophy. Funding sources today are increasingly restricted from the point of view of environmental compliance. Companies must seek to act within this new model of energy operation of the humanity in order to reduce climate change and get the world to enter into objective commitments of reducing emissions. Within this context, committed to reducing emissions, Iberdrola is committed to reducing CO2 emissions per kWh by 20% in 2050. We have to start working ahead of time, this is a cultural, regulatory change in people behavior, who will be able to gather together all these initiatives, so that this energy transition is really positive.

Valor: What is the energy source that supplies the stations in the Green Corridor, does it come from the grid, from renewable energy? When will the Green Corridor be commercially available to the public to use it?

Mário Ruiz-Tagle: This is an important issue, there is no point in having a Green Corridor if the energy we generate is not clean. The Corridor's energy comes from the grid, from the National Interconnected System, energy that circulates through our concession and distribution areas. The job is not just to incorporate an increasing volume of energy from renewable sources into the network. In this sense, we have developed in recent years the Oitis and Chafariz wind projects, which are of the order of 1,000 Megawatt of installed power located in the states of the Northeast, between Bahia and Paraíba to integrate energy to supply these stations. The advantage is that the Brazilian energy matrix comes from hydroelectric, wind, photovoltaic and renewable sources. This ensures us that the electric stations are supplied, at least, with a good percentage of this matrix, especially considering that a large part of the generation in the Northeast states, today, is renewable energy.

As for making commercial use, I would say more than commercial, but open to the public so that they are able to use these electric stations. Our goal is to run tests during 2021. There are several types of tests, with 100% electric cars, hybrid cars, combustion cars, to show the population the advantage of migrating to the electric car or at least being able to accelerate the hybrid cars, which are those that run on energy and can also run on fuel. Our intention is that, from 2022, the Green Corridor system will be open so that the entire population using the roads in the Northeast can use it. This is a project that is being developed under a Research and Development program, supervised and sponsored by Aneel and the purpose is to showcase that the electric mobility solution on the roads in the Northeast is feasible, economically profitable and accessible to the population.

An important point, especially regarding the behavior that we aim to do with the entire operation of this network, is to influence the behavior of the population so that they can have an electric car and share it. This will undoubtedly serve for the regulator to improve future regulation that will allow this network expansion. Our project does not end in this Corridor, this is the main road that runs through the Northeast region, but our goal is also to make corridors within our concession areas, using the main state roads.