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Brazil

Brazil

Honda leads car brands' push into wind power

BRAZIL: The competitiveness of wind power in Brazil is attracting investment from other sectors, including the automotive, mining and chemical industries.

Clean power drive... Honda has already ordered wind turbines to power one of its Brazilian factories
Clean power drive... Honda has already ordered wind turbines to power one of its Brazilian factories

These are either investing directly in their own generation projects or buying power from renewable sources on the non-regulated market.

One of the high-profile companies in this movement is Japanese vehicle maker Honda, which recently joined Brazilian wind-power association Abeeolica. Honda had announced in April that it was setting up a local energy subsidiary to build a 27MW project in southern Brazil with a total investment of BRL100 million ($44 million).

According to Elbia Melo, executive secretary at Abeeolica, Honda is also interested in using a logo that proves it uses wind power in its operations. Volvo and two other automotive manufacturers are also aiming for the logo, said Melo.

"The drive behind these movements are price and clean power," said Mikio Kawai, CEO of Brazilian power trading firm Safira Energia. "The automotive sector is looking for clean power because it still produces cars that are polluting." Kawai said demand for clean power from the automotive sector has increased in the past 18 months.

Swedish car maker Volvo is also planning to invest in renewable power, although it is at a pilot stage of implementing solar and wind micro generation to supply part of its offices in the city of Curitiba in the Brazilian state of Parana. A spokesperson told Windpower Monthly that Volvo is planning to increase investment in renewable power, likely be both in wind and solar.

Honda, on the other hand, is already ordering nine 3MW turbines from Vestas for a project that is due to start operations by September 2014. The power will supply the whole energy needs of its factory in the state of Sao Paulo and, according to Carlos Eigi, CEO of Honda's local energy subsidiary Honda Energy, should reduce the company's power bills by 44%. The results from the experience will determine whether Honda Energy will invest in new wind-power projects to supply its motorbike factory in Manaus in the Amazon forest region.

Kawai confirmed that the financial drive is strong for both buyers and sellers of power in the non-regulated market. According to his calculations, wind developers can sell power for 30-50% more than the price obtained at an auction, while large consumers can reduce what they pay for each megawatt hour by 10-15%.

"Contracts are shorter (three to five years), but wind power is more than competitive in Brazil," Kawai said.

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