The Electrical Energy Research Center - Cepel was created in 1974, through an initiative of Eletrobras, having Chesf, Furnas, Eletronorte and Eletrosul as co-founders. Throughout its trajectory, the Center has contributed to the promotion of the sustainable development of the Eletrobras companies, as well as to the creation and maintenance of the scientific infrastructure and advanced research of electric equipment and systems in the country.
In Brazil, the technological researches in the electricity sector developed late. In its initial phase, the development of the sector was centered in the installation of small local systems and in some larger ventures, promoted by foreign groups which used imported equipment and technology from their countries of origin. The search for technological autonomy started in the late 1960's, coinciding with the economic recovery that succeeded the crisis of the development model based on import substitution that occurred in the early years of this decade.
By that time, the research activities were restricted to the electro technical institutes linked to universities, study departments and to small laboratories in electricity utilities, whose main objective was to solve problems of equipment and measurement instrument maintenance.
However, the increase in the installed capacity of electric power in Brazil required a technology that, in certain cases, was not available in industrialized countries. The harvesting of energy sources located further and further from consumption areas, the complexity of operation and control of the electricity transmission networks - which were going through an increasing process of interconnection - and the need to transmit great amounts of energy through long distances increased the interest for the development of proper technological alternatives.
With the creation of Cepel, the government intended for the electricity companies to have access to new technologies, more suitable to the Brazilian reality, as well as reducing royalties and patent payments to foreign entities. But the economic recession of the late 1970's and early 80's reduced the investments of state-owned companies, affecting the research activities of the electricity sector.
This scenario began to change with the New Republic. In March 1985 the Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT) was created, destined to conceive and implement the country's scientific and technological policy. From the late 1990's, meeting the new necessities of the national electricity sector, Cepel strengthened efforts towards the optimization and expansion of the sustainable use of water resources, the insertion of the environmental dimension in the several stages of expansion and operation planning, the energy conservation and efficiency, and for the development of alternative sources of electric power.
Currently Cepel is involved in several initiatives which aim at meeting the future demands of the electricity sector in the country. Cepel is also implementing the Ultra High Voltage Laboratory (Lab UAT), which will perform tests and experimental researches on new technologies and configurations for transmission lines, and it will be fundamental in the search for solutions in the transmission of large energy blocks generated in faraway plants to the consumer centers. Following the global trend of modernization of energy distribution, Cepel is installing a laboratory for experimental research and assessment of Smart Grid solutions.