Brazil: How the “My Home my Life” Programme Can Help the Solar Water Heater Sector

 Brazil My Home My Life Programme” Minha Casa Minha Vida: This spring, the Brazilian Government launched the “My Home My Life” programme, which plans to set up 1 million homes for low-income families over the next two years and may also benefit the solar sector.
Photo: www.minhacasaminhavida.gov.br

Brazil is showing a trend towards solar water heaters in social housing projects. At the end of 2008, over 40,000 low-income families had already taken advantage of the extensive benefits provided for solar water heaters. This sector is very likely growing further next year due to the Brazilian government's announcement in early 2009 to implement a programme called “Minha Casa, Minha Vida” (My Home My Life). It came into force by the publication of the so called “Medida Provisória” (Interim Measure) No 459” on 25 March 2009. One of the programme's intents is to increase the number of solar water heater installations in the new houses that are to be built because of it.

Equipped with a total budget of Brazilian Real (BRL) 34 billion, the programme aims at constructing 1 million single family homes by the end of 2011. Two different family categories can benefit from it: The ones with 0 to 3 minimum wages in cities with over 100,000 inhabitants will receive subsidies for constructing the house, setting the monthly repayment rate to around BRL 10 per month or at least BRL 50 over ten years. Families with incomes of 3 to 6 minimum wages will be offered low-interest loans, limiting their repayment rate to no more than 20 % of the monthly income. The government's initial plan was to have all the houses build within two years, by the end of 2011, but this deadline is now unlikely to be met, according to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

The particularity of the programme: The to-be-built houses have to fulfil a number of environmental features, such as having a collection system for the reuse of rain water or building only with certified wood. Solar water heaters are not compulsory in its first phase, although it is likely that many of the new houses will eventually have a solar system mounted on their roofs. The Ministry of Mining and Energy actively promotes the use of solar water heaters in the Minha Casa, Minha Vida programme (see attached flyer in Portuguese).

People familiar with Brazil's solar initiatives expect at least 150,000 families to buy homes with solar water heaters during the first phase of My Home My Life in 2010. This corresponds to a newly installed collector area of 300,000 m2 and would certainly have an impact on a market, which was at 700,000 m2 of newly installed collector area in 2008. Once the implementation of the programme is successfully completed, the government-owned bank CAIXA will evaluate whether to make solar a compulsory item as it did with certified wood. This June, the bank had launched a new instrument for rating the sustainability of housing projects, called Blue House Label, which grades enterprises according to socio-environmental criteria, with the focus being on natural resource economics and social practices.

The states of Minas Gerais and Sao Paulo are regarded as the pioneers in the installation of solar water heaters in social housing. Both had already adopted similar policies even before the government announced its federal programme “Minha Casa, Minha Vida”. These two most populated states in the country have required the installation of solar water heaters in new social housing projects since 2008.

More information:
http://www.minhacasaminhavida.gov.br

This news was written by Carlos Faria Café – Director of SE – Studio Equinócio - Marca Solar Group in Brazil. www.marcasolar.com.br

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