Tracing the Brazil - U.S. connection

Use of online education resources, domestic solar energy on the rise

More than 12 million people in Brazil use online educational tools offering resources such as exercises, mock tests, video courses and educational games, according to the Lemann Foundation, a non-profit focused on educational initiatives.

“Technology helps bridge the gap between the access and the opportunities students are given overseas, especially in the U.S. and Europe,” said Lemann Project Manager Guilherme Antunes.

The foundation’s Aprenda.Online webportal features link to websites like the Khan Academy, the world’s biggest mathematics site; Youtube Edu, which shows a collection of the shortest video classes selected by YouTube, and Coursera, an open platform with free courses from the world’s most renowned universities.

Initiatives such as the Broadband in Schools Program, a partnership between the federal government and telecommunications companies, are expanding Internet access at public schools. According to a survey released last year, 32,434 public schools across the country have no access to the Internet, most of them in rural areas, where Internet connectivity is limited to 13% of schools.

Solar panels at a Rio de Janeiro residence (Photo by Absolar via Facebook)
Solar panels at a Rio de Janeiro residence (Photo by Absolar via Facebook)

Legislation enacted March 1 by the National Electric Energy Agency (ANEEL) is expected to encourage faster adoption of distributed power by allowing condominium residents to install solar power via shared generation.

Under Brazil’s previous net metering system, credit for excess energy generated in a given month could be used to offset a consumer’s bill over the next 36 months. Under the new rules, credits for excess energy are valid for 60 months, and they can also be offset against the consumption of electricity generated by the same consumer but located elsewhere — a practice known as remote net metering.

Other improvements introduced this month include simpler rules for connecting a micro- or mini-distributed generation source to the grid, and the introduction of an Internet-based system for the consumer to track progress of orders for a new connection.

Shared energy adoption in Brazil quadrupled from 2014 to 2016, going from 424 to 1,930 connections, and may surge by 800% this year thanks to the new rules, according to ANEEL. The agency estimates 1.2 million households in Brazil will adopt shared generation by 2024.

Cover photo cc by Olabi Makerspace via Flickr