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Residential natural gas use in Brazil up 32.7% in 5 years

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Residential natural gas use is starting to show consistent growth in Brazil. In 5 years, the number of consumption points increased from 2,911,900 units in June 2016 to 3,865,068 in June 2021 – up 32.7%, according to data from the Brazilian Association of Piped Gas Distribution Companies (ABEGÁS).

“This result is an indicator of the distributors’ efforts to universalize the piped gas service. In this period, concessionaires added more than 8,500 kilometers to the distribution network, which represents growth of 27.7%. It is a relevant delivery, mainly considering a period in which the country witnessed years of retraction or low economic growth,” says the association’s director of strategy and market Marcelo Mendonça.

Residential natural gas use is starting to show consistent growth in Brazil. (photo internet reproduction)

In absolute figures, the state that grew the most was São Paulo, with the addition of 576,315 consumption points (34% increase), totaling the results of the three concession areas.

The largest share of this growth comes from Comgás, which currently has over 2.1 million residential customers – at the end of the second quarter of 2016, the company had a little over 1.6 million and proposes to add over 2.3 million new customers should the concession contract be extended until 2049.

OTHER APPLICATIONS BEYOND KITCHEN USE

One of the natural gas sector’s expansion targets has been the real estate market, which is experiencing a boom, according to the Brazilian Association of Real Estate Credit and Savings (ABECIP) – 2020 registered a 57.5% increase in financing amounts compared to 2019.

According to the distributors, the use of natural gas only for cooking is a thing of the past. To maximize service, they seek partnerships with the real estate sector to offer other applications still in the condominiums’ design stage.

“About 70% of new building residents, the so-called new housing segment, are fans of natural gas shower water heating solutions, either by individual heaters in each apartment or central heating. And whenever possible we present other solutions,” says Comgás’ sales manager Fabrício Marti.

An example is Figueira Altos do Tatuapé, a 50-story, 172-meter skyscraper inaugurated this month in São Paulo’s East Side. Now the largest residential building in the city, the condominium has a natural gas barbecue, installed on apartment balconies, as one of its main attractions.

In Curitiba, the use of water heating is an established culture among the buildings that use natural gas, according to the concessionaire’s commercial manager Mauro Melara.

Melara says that “the reason lies in thermal comfort. High and medium standard buildings are also adopting the energy source to heat swimming pools and supply fireplaces and barbecues.”

Compagas posted growth of 50.9% between the consumption figures for June 2016 and the same period in 2021. In the winter, between the months of June and August, the average consumption reached by the residential segment exceeded 44,000 cubic meters per day.

Even in locations with higher temperatures, piped gas has been gaining ground. In Amazonas, the first connections were made in 2017 and the numbers have been rising. “In December 2020, Cigás had 4,364 consumer units contracted in this segment, and by September this year, it jumped to 7,080 residential customers,” states the technical commercial director of the local concessionaire, Clovis Correia Junior.

The strategy is to maximize the supply options, suggesting alternatives that even include room acclimatization. “Another solution that is often demanded is the use of power generators for common areas or even for the whole condominium, and not only as a backup in case of a power outage,” Correia Junior says.

In Maceió, Alagoas, the first state capital to offer residential service outside the Rio-SP axis, 1 in every 4 residential clients has gas-powered water heating. “Our commercial team identifies the profile of the developments and offers technical solutions that provide comfort and convenience for future residents. As a result, we are able to increase our sales volume,” says Algás’ commercial manager Fabio Sousa.

Between June 2016 and June 2021, Abegás posted 72.5% growth in the number of homes connected to the natural gas network in the Northeastern states.

“Natural gas is a versatile energy source that can be used in several segments. Even for the balance of the Brazilian energy matrix, it is quite opportune that distributors encourage demand with new applications and play their role in the production chain: market development,” says Abegás’ strategy and market director.

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