RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Brazil is moving ahead toward expansion of a smart grid network in the country despite huge disparities in the quality of housing available to Brazilians and continuing problems tackling illegal dwellings in slum sprawls in Rio de Janeiro, other major cities and rural areas.
With eyes on the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympics, Brazil is keenly intent on brushing up its urban image and embark on modernization even where critics want more attention paid to the more basic shortfalls in living conditions.
Inequality in housing and income are some of the most glaring problems cited in the media but, critics claim, not tackled at the scale required to deal with the problem.
Brazil is rated to have one of the worst poverty records in Latin America, reduced slightly under former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The richest 10 percent of Brazilians receive 42.7 percent of the nation's income, while the poorest 10 percent receive less than 1.2 percent, published data indicate.
As a result, industry analysts said, most of Brazil's current efforts to introduce ultra-modern electricity distribution and monitoring systems will initially reach the super rich and a growing middle class but not yet the majority of its population of 192 million.
The U.S, company Echelon Corp. said its Brazilian partner, ELO Sistemas Eletronicos, a leading supplier of digital electricity meters in Brazil, is the first meter manufacturer in Brazil to get the go-ahead for a producing and supplying a complete smart grid portfolio.
ELO will produce single phase, poly phase and current transformer meters. Echelon is providing smart metering subsystems to ELO including power line control and communication technology and embedded firmware for smart meters.
Along with Echelon's Control Operating System-powered control nodes and data center-based system software, ELO is providing a proven, open-standard and multi-application control network solution customized for the Brazilian market.
The rapid Brazilian market growth coupled with the requirement for near real-time performance, feature breadth and reliability make the Echelon solution a perfect fit, the company said.
"The Brazilian market is not only very large, but it is also very forward thinking, as evidenced by its vision and leadership in modernizing the smart grid," said Marcos Rizzo, ELO's vice president of business development.
Brazil, a "clear regional leader in South America in terms of its market size, development of a smart meter regulatory framework and attractive market conditions" will be the first country in South America to begin large-scale deployments and will pave the way for other countries in the region to follow," said Ben Gardner, president of research firm Northeast Group, LLC, which has headquarters in Washington.
Echelon Corp., a leading open-standard energy control networking company, has headquarters in San Jose, Calif. The company says it connects more than 35 million homes, 300,000 buildings and 100 million devices to the smart grids internationally.