Good winds still blowing in Brazil

Brasil Observer - Nov 11 2016
29/09/2015 - Recife - PE - O governador Paulo Camara, durante Inauguração do Complexo Santa Brígida, empreendimento de R$ 864 milhões, mais do que duplicará a participação energética oriunda dos ventos no EstadoFotos: Aluísio Moreira/SEI
Photo: Aluísio Moreira/SEI

(Leia em Português)


Investments over the last ten years place the country among the world’s leaders in wind energy generation


By Wagner de Alcântara Aragão

The winds that blow over the more than eight-and-a-half million square kilometres of Brazilian territory are increasingly being taken advantage of.

These winds move the turbines of wind farms in Brazil. Ten years ago (more intensely since 2010), the country has invested heavily in the generation and production of energy from wind power. The installed wind power capacity jumped from 27 megawatts in 2005 to 10,600 megawatts in 2016. That is, the installed capacity increased to 400 times in the last decade.

According to the latest annual report of the Global World Energy Council (GWEC), Brazil ranked fourth in wind power growth in 2015 globally, only behind China, the United States and Germany. The report stresses that Brazil has some of the best winds in the world, three times the need for electricity in the country.

The international agency points out the country will keep growing its potential. Solid growth is expected to continue; Brazil continues as the most promising market in Latin America, notes the report. In installed capacity, Brazil ranked tenth in the GWEC report with 8,700 megawatts, or 2% of installed capacity worldwide, just below Italy (with 8,900 megawatts) and France (10,300 megawatts).



If the pace of investment is not dramatically affected by the severe political and economic crisis facing the country since the beginning of 2015, the trend is that Brazil will go up in the world ranking of installed wind power capacity. Last August, the installed capacity of the Brazilian wind farms exceeded 10,000 megawatts (at the time of writing, was at 10,600 megawatts according to official figures). From the end of 2015 to the second half of 2016, growth of this capacity was of 21%.

The fact, moreover, was much celebrated by experts and representatives of industry. The Wind Energy Brazilian Association (Abeeólica), which brings together companies that are part of the supply chain of wind energy in the country, considered the 10,000 megawatts of installed capacity mark achieved by Brazil a “flagship”. “To get an idea, the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam has just over 11,000 megawatts capacity. Last year, wind energy monthly fuelled a population equivalent to the entire south of the country,” compares in a statement the association.

The professional association also stresses the nationalization index of the production chain and investments of approximately R$ 48 billion made in the last six years. “It is important to mention that the use of wind power has grown consistently because in recent years has developed in the country a wind power chain that is 80% nationalized, which led to wind power to be the second most competitive source of the country,” says Elbia Gannoum, the executive president of Abeeólica, in an interview with the Brasil Observer.

Investments in the last six years are 80% of the R$ 60 billion invested since 1998, which shows how recent is the path taken by Brazil to expand the use of this renewable (and sustainable) source that is wind energy. Last year alone, Brazil opened 100 of 407 wind farms that the country has today, according to data from the Mines and Energy Ministry. “In 2015, wind energy was the source that grew most in the Brazilian energy matrix, responsible for the participation of 39.3% in the expansion, followed by hydropower (35.1%) and thermal energy (25.6%),” adds Abeeólica.



Projections announced in January by Abeeólica – during the government of Dilma Rousseff – indicated a prospect of Brazil reaching 24,000 megawatts of installed wind energy power capacity in the coming years. By the end of this year is estimated to reach 11,000 megawatts. The prospect of a promising future is maintained despite the political and economic crisis that has virtually paralyzed the country since early 2015.

Among parks under construction and those with construction already contracted are currently 333 units in progress, most of them (159) in the North-Eastern State of Bahia. With the exception of Rio Grande do Sul (17 parks), all other States with units under construction or contracted are also in the Northeast Region: Rio Grande do Norte (59), Piauí (37), Ceará (41), Pernambuco (ten), Maranhão (eight) and Paraíba (three).





In an interview with the Brasil Observer, the executive president of the Brazilian Association of Wind Energy (Abeeólica), Elbia Gannoum ensures the industry projections.


BRASIL OBSERVER | In the Abeeólica view, how intense the expansion of the Brazilian wind energy sector has been in the last decade?

ELBIA GANNOUM | The Brazilian electricity industry has undergone great changes after the 2001 rationing, implementing a new model between 2003 and 2004. A key change was the creation of power generation auctions. Especially from 2005, the auctions began to hire new generation projects. At that time was already underway the Alternative Sources Incentive Program, Proinfa, which hired about 1.3 GW [or 1,300 megawatts] in wind farms because the projects were not yet competitive to participate in the auctions. Proinfa was very important because it provided the first entry of large wind projects in Brazil, which were later covered with energy auctions from 2009. Wind power began in Brazil in an appropriate time; it’s now possible to have competitive prices.


BRASIL OBSERVER | What factors have lead this expansion?

ELBIA GANNOUM | Wind energy has been developed with great intensity and has some tax exemptions that other generation sources also have. This means that there was an incentive for the creation of the production chain, which was a very successful industrial policy. Besides all this, there is one crucial point: Brazil has one of the best winds in the world, and this is undoubtedly one of the major reasons for the growth.


BRASIL OBSERVER | Can the troubled political and economic situation pose a risk to investments in wind power in the country?

ELBIA GANNOUM | No, this is not a risk because there is a real need to contract due to the inevitable resumption of growth that will come soon. The wind power is developing in Brazil successfully and is not the result of a program of this or that party. It is a national project and the source has reached an important strength. Several other data give a dimension of importance, which the wind industry now has. Last year alone, 41,000 jobs were created [by the industry]. This year, the estimate is a similar number. Each megawatt installed generates 15 jobs in the entire production chain. There is no risk of political interference.

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