FEATURE: Brazil windpower projects to get $22bn in investments by 2019

Brazil will see investments in wind-power generation worth 50 billion Reais ($22.3 billion) over the next five years, according to the country’s wind energy association, Abeeólica.

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“[The use of] wind energy is showing an impressive upward curve [in Brazil],” association president Elbia Melo told Steel First.

The country intends to increase power generation from alternative sources amid growing energy consumption levels and fears of rationing.

Currently, wind accounts for only 2.2% of Brazil’s total energy complex, supplying 2,045MW, according to the country’s mining and energy ministry.

This amount represents a growth of 40.7% over the past 12 months.

“Wind is expected to make up 9% of the country’s total energy capacity by 2018,” Melo said.

The Latin American country has historically relied on hydroelectricity generation, which today accounts for 67.7% of the national energy supply, according to the ministry.

“There was technological development in the past decade which has significantly lowered the cost of wind generation, making it more competitive,” Melo added.

Most wind power projects in Brazil use funds from state-owned development bank BNDES, which requires the use of components produced domestically in the construction of these ventures.

The erection of a 90m-high wind turbine is estimated to use about 350 tonnes of steel.

Rationing fears
Increasing energy costs and fears of rationing were the principal reasons behind the installation of new wind farms in the country.

Experts believe that Brazil faces a risk of energy rationing this year, as a consequence of insufficient heavy rains in the country’s summer season, lack of investment in infrastructure and growing energy consumption.

The Brazilian government on May 28 authorised an auction to construct 248 new wind-power projects, most of them in the north-eastern states of Ceará and Bahia. The auction will be held early in June, wit the projects expected to be commissioned in 2017.

“The construction of wind farms is relatively fast, and this demands attention from the government,” Melo said.

This year, several wind turbines are being built, but they are not operational due to the lack of transmission lines, she added.

“The lack of transmission lines was an important bottleneck last year, but this issue is being resolved,” she said.

The new facilities are expected to be connected to the energy distribution system by the end of the year, increasing wind generation capacity by 1,300MW, according to Abeeólica.