Brazil Looks For Takers For Massive Wind Projects
Brazil has put up for bidding 399 wind farms planned
to be built in its northeast region as part of a
huge project to develop around
14,520 megawatts of renewable energy
not derived from hydro power.
The wind farms alone will add a total of 10,569 MW to the country’s electric capacity while 79 other renewable energy projects, from biomass and small hydropower, would make up the rest of the power generation target.
The auction is expected to be held in the next two months according to the state-owned Energy Research Corporation, quoting reports from Spanish news agency EFE.
The agency said the wind farms will be placed in Northeast Brazil, whose arid climate may not make it suitable for hydroelectric power but is ideal for wind projects because of its high wind speeds.
The government will solicit bids for 61 biomass projects that will use sugarcane as feedstock to add 3,706 MW of capacity. Additionally, 18 small hydroelectric projects would add 255 MW.
Electricity sales contracts for the renewable energy projects would take effect in 2013, while those for the biomass projects will be between 2011 and 2013.
The projects’ 14,529-MW output is just above the 12,600-MW production of Itaipu Dam, the world’s second largest hydroelectric plant, which the country operates jointly with Paraguay.
Hydroelectric power plants currently generate nearly 80 percent of the electricity used in Brazil. However, droughts cause severe energy shortages, prompting the government to veer away from water power and diversify its energy portfolio.
In contrast, wind energy can be most productive in Brazil during the dry season. The country’s potential for wind energy was placed by the Global Wind Energy Council at 143 gigawatts. Brazil held its first wind-only energy auction in 2009 for 2,000 MW of wind production. Installed wind capacity in Brazil is currently around 500 MW.
But large hydropower projects are still moving forward in Brazil though weighed down by environmental concerns. The controversial $10.6 billion Belo Monte Dam, for example, which could be in the same league as China’s Three Gorges Dam and Itaipu, is being continued despite criticisms by indigenous groups and environmental organizations.
By diverting the flow of the Xingu River, a tributary of the Amazon River, Belo Monte could produce 11,233 MW of power. Concerns that have been raised against the dam include the possible flooding of 500 square kilometers of pristine rainforest in the area, relocation of 12,000 people and negative impacts on 45,000 indigenous people that depend on the river.