Brazil is focusing on interconnecting various regions of the country driven by the evolution of the demand load and the significant expansion of the generation capacity (predominantly renewables) expected to occur over the next few years, especially in the northeast region. Brazil’s Ministério de Minas e Energia or Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME), under Plano Decenal de Expansão de Energia (PDE) 2030 or Ten-Year Energy Expansion Plan (2030), has highlighted the upcoming generation projects in the northeast region and has suggested expanding the export capacity of the north/northeast to help eliminate electrical restrictions and ensure the full disposal of surplus generation in the long-term. To this end, the plan is to interlink the north/northeast and southeast/centre-west regions.

Brazil’s energy agency Empresa de Pesquisa Energética (EPE) is actively working towards the same. In January 2023 EPE published ‘Estudo de expansão das interligações regionais – Parte II: Expansão da capacidade de exportação da região Norte/Nordeste’, Relatório R1 (R1), or ‘Study on the expansion of regional interconnections – Part II: Expansion of export capacity in the North/Northeast region’, Report R1 (R1), recommending investment over BRL22 billion for transmission network expansion. 

This followed the release of the ‘Study on Expansion of Regional Interconnections’ in July 2021, which recommended expanding the capacity of regional interconnections mainly between the north/northeast system (which predominantly exports energy) and the south and southeast/centre-west subsystems (which have the highest projections of load growth). 

The majority of the proposed projects in R1 are related to the reports, ‘Estudo de Escoamento de Geração da Região Nordeste, volumes 1, 2 e 3’ or ‘Study of Generation Flow in the Northeast Region, volumes 1, 2 and 3’, developed by EPE to propose structural reinforcements in the Sistema Interligado Nacional (SIN) or National Interconnected System (SIN). These reports aim to solve local restrictions so as to connect future generation projects, expand the exchange capacity between the north/northeast and southeast/centre-west regions, and increase the reliability of the grid.

One of the key projects proposed in R1 is the 800 kV, 1,440-km Graça Aranha–Silvânia high voltage direct current (HVDC) double-circuit line and the transmission network associated with this, which includes nine 500 kV alternating current (AC) lines, a 500/800 kV converter substation, a 500 kV conventional substation, and two-line sections (one in single-circuit and one in double-circuit). The entire network is scheduled to come online by 2028.

R1 reports are part of the initial planning stage of EPE, including studies that recommend new transmission and substations. Subsequently, EPE prepares reports R2, R3, R4 and R5 for these projects, which present technical details of the reference alternative (R2), the definition of the route guideline and socio-environmental analysis (R3), the characterisation of the transmission system (R4), and the estimate of land costs (R5) of the works.

All these reports (R1-R5) will be sent to the energy regulator, Agencia Nacional de Energia Elétrica (ANEEL) to include these projects in the upcoming transmission auction including Auction No. 03/2023, scheduled in December 2023. Post that, ANEEL is required to start working on future stages of public consultation and evaluation by the Tribunal de Contas da União (TCU) or the Federal Court of Accounts (TCU) of these projects.

Load growth analysis

As per the analysis of PDE 2030, 34 GW of renewable capacity has already been contracted and will come online by 2025 in the north/northeast region. For the period 2026-33, under the reference case scenario, installed renewable capacity is likely to increase by 28 GW to 38 GW in the north/northeast region, resulting in an annual addition of between 2.8 GW and 3.8 GW of wind and solar capacity, amounting to an installed capacity of 57 GW to 72 GW. This generation capacity can be utilised to meet the rising power demand in other parts of the country. As per the analysis of EPS, of the 23 GW increase in total demand by 2033, 17 GW will be concentrated in the south, southeast and midwest regions of the country. Based on these, the power export capacity of the northeast region needs to be increased by 18 GW to 31 GW, and that of the north/northeast region by 18 GW to 29 GW. 

EPE’s studies

Under its R1, EPE has concluded that to support the upcoming capacity addition in the north/northeast region, it will be necessary to implement at least two new high voltage transmission corridors connecting this region to the southeast/centre and south regions, in addition to reinforcements in the existing transmission grid. This report recommends the implementation of the first express transmission corridor, indicating the BRL22.6 billion Alternative 6B or Bipolo Nordeste I as the solution with the best technical-economic performance among the alternatives evaluated. This alternative ±800 kV, 5 GW, 1,440-km Graça Aranha–Silvânia HVDC line, which will interconnect the Graça Aranha substation, in the state of Maranhão, to the Silvânia substation in the state of Goiás. In addition, complementary reinforcements in the existing AC transmission grid have been discussed in the report.

Along with this project, EPE has also recommended carrying out a separate detailed short-circuit study to assess the need to replace equipment or recommend mitigating measures in the studied substations (especially the Itumbiara substation, where violation of the lower symmetric interruption capacity of circuit breakers was confirmed). 

EPE is also working to identify the second express transmission corridor and associated reinforcements to increase the export capacity of the north/northeast region by 15 GW by 2030 for the full disposal of upcoming generation capacity. EPE is likely to announce this second corridor in the next update of the report.  

In addition to these transmission network expansions, EPE is examining the development of the energy storage and distributed generation market in the country, which could alter the transmission network requirements in years to come. 

Upcoming auctions

As mentioned earlier, these projects are expected to be included in the upcoming auction scheduled in December 2023 as per the MME’s Normative Ordinance No. 58/GM/MME of December 21, 2022. Under the latter, three transmission auctions have been scheduled in 2023. ANEEL has already shared information for the first auction of 2023.

In February 2023, ANEEL gave preliminary approval for Transmission Auction No. 1/2023, with an expected investment of BRL15.8 billion. It will auction 6,184 km of transmission lines and 400 MVA of transformer capacity across seven Brazilian states on June 30, 2023. The auction is intended to award concessions for building electric power transmission facilities located in the states of Bahia, Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Sergipe. The duration for completion of each lot varies from 36 to 66 months.

The draft of the public notice and documentation referring to the six lots were under public consultation from December 1, 2022 to January 16, 2023. A total of 237 contributions were received, of which 142 were fully or partially accepted. After a technical statement from the TCU, Brazil’s federal court of audit, adjustments will be made to the auction notice. A technical clarification workshop on the main points is scheduled to be held on May 19, 2023.

Investment plans of power utilities

Several power utilities have announced their investment plans to expand their networks in Brazil by participating in upcoming auctions (transmission and generation). Reportedly, four big electricity companies in Brazil have planned multibillion-dollar investments in 2023 for power generation (especially renewable energy projects), transmission and distribution projects. 

Brazil’s state-run power company, Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA (Eletrobras), plans to invest BRL9 billion in 2023, with the majority of the planned capex, BRL4.7 billion, to be spent on generation, BRL3.8 billion on transmission and BRL500 million on specific purpose entities (SPEs). It will also spend BRL4.2 billion to maintain its subsidiaries and plants.

CPFL Energia SA, one of Brazil’s largest private electricity companies and a subsidiary of China’s state-owned State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), plans to invest BRL5.2 billion in 2023, out of which BRL3.9 billion is to be spent on distribution; BRL642 million on transmission, largely for its subsidiary Rio Grande do Sul (CEEE-T); and BRL519 million on generation. For the distribution network it has allocated BRL1.6 billion to CPFL Paulista, BRL509 million to CPFL Piratininga, BRL243 million to CPFLSanta Cruz, and BRL1.6 billion to RGE Sul.

Engie Brasil plans to invest BRL4 billion in 2023 in the generation, transmission and gas markets. BRL1.7 billion will be spent on the Santo Agostinho wind complex in Rio Grande do Norte, and BRL150 million on the Novo Estado transmission project in Pará and Tocantins. It will focus its investments on the Serra do Assuruá wind farm in Bahia; the Assú photovoltaic (PV) solar power project in Rio Grande do Norte; and the Alvorada solar project, and the Umburanas and Campo Largo wind farms, all in Bahia. It will also invest BRL200 million in gas transportation through its subsidiary Transportadora Associada de Gás (TAG).

Brazilian utility Neoenergia SA is expected to invest BRL10 billion in 2023 for its subsidiaries Companhia Energetica de Pernambuco (Celpe), Companhia Energética do Rio Grande do Norte (Cosern), Neoenergia Elektro, Neoenergia Coelba and Neoenergia Brasília. It will invest BRL3 billion each in transmission and renewable generation projects. 

In addition, Sterlite Brazil Participacoes SA, a subsidiary of Sterlite Power Transmission Limited (SPTL), an India-based integrated power transmission developer and solutions provider, has announced its plans to increase and boost its transmission portfolio by participating in the upcoming transmission auctions of ANEEL.  


The outlook of the country seems positive, with the government actively working to maintain grid stability. Two 80 kV transmission HVDC projects (Belo Monte 1 and 2) are already operational in the country, which shows Brazil’s ability to handle the construction of such large projects. The investment plans of various power utilities also confirm investors’ confidence in Brazil’s electricity sector.