USTDA Helps Small Business Succeed in Brazil’s Power Sector

The state of Minas Gerais is home to some of Brazil’s most ideal locations for solar power generation. With USTDA’s assistance, the state turned to Vrinda, a New York-based small business, to ensure that reliable power is continually delivered to more than 18 million people in this economically dynamic region.

As the number of utility-scale and rooftop installations accelerated in Minas Gerais, the state’s reliable electricity distribution network started experiencing an array of technical challenges. Cemig D, the state’s distribution company, sought USTDA’s assistance and evaluation of technologies to integrate these new installations into its network and address systemic issues of power intermittency and reliability. Cemig D selected Vrinda, an international strategy implementation firm, to execute the USTDA-funded assistance.

Vrinda Co-Founder and COO Navneet Trivedi emphasizes that without USTDA’s support, it was not possible for a small business like his to explore and expand in Latin America. “USTDA gave us our first overseas opportunity, which is very important for any business, but foundational for Vrinda. This opportunity and constant support by USTDA through introductions to utilities and Brazilian businesses opened multiple doors. Today we have two direct contracts with the largest Brazilian utilities helping them from strategy to implementation and have established ourselves as a trusted partner to many Brazilian utilities and professionals.”

Vrinda assessed Cemig’s D network infrastructure and requirements based on the projected growth in its total installed capacity of solar power, which jumped from approximately 20 megawatts (MW) in early 2017 to approximately 500MW in early 2020. By 2027, Vrinda estimated that this number is likely to climb to 1,000MW in a base case scenario and up to 2,000MW in a high case scenario.

To address the challenges associated with this growth, Vrinda recommended a series of new investments including a Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS) and an Advanced Distribution Analytics (ADA) software system. Implementing this new technology will ensure continued compliance with national regulatory requirements for interconnections and reliability indices.

Following the completion of USTDA’s assistance, Cemig D contracted with Vrinda to design and implement the DERMS system. In January 2020, Vrinda introduced Cemig D to several U.S. utilities in California, Colorado and New York to observe ADA and DERMS systems and develop new relationships with American suppliers of these innovative technologies. After this visit, Cemig D began developing technical specifications for the ADA software in collaboration with expert U.S. providers.

USTDA Acting Director Thomas Hardy sums up the project this way: “This innovative collaboration between USTDA and Brazil achieved each of our objectives: We created a new overseas opportunity for a U.S. small business and ultimately enhanced the country’s management of new energy sources. In every way, we believe this is a successful partnership that is built to last.”