Bahia aims high with strategy for gigawatt projects

BRAZIL: Having attracted major wind companies to open local factories, the state is now authorising large-scale wind farms.

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The state of Bahia in north-east Brazil is aiming to develop large-scale wind-power projects of 1GW and above, industry experts in the state told Windpower Monthly at a conference in Sao Paulo last month.

The first environmental licence for such a large wind farm was granted in January to Sao Paulo-based energy company Moinhos de Vento Energia for a 1.7GW wind-power project in the neighbouring municipalities of Santo Se and Umburanas. This development alone is larger than the total installed capacity of the country at the end of 2011, which stood at 1.5GW. Until now, the largest wind farms in the state were around 400MW.

Power regulator Aneel has authorised 544MW of the project's turbines. The park will be developed in 69 sections of between 20MW and 28MW each and will require a total of 866 wind turbines.The country's total installed wind capacity is set to rise to more than 11.5GW by 2020, according to government projections.

"There are another three large wind power projects being authorised by the Bahia government," said Rafael Valverde, special aide to the state government on energy. He declined to name the project developers but, according to lawyers close to negotiations around leasing land for the projects, they involve large companies already operating in Brazil's energy market.

The Moinhos de Vento project is included in the 4.3GW of wind-power proposals that the government has already licensed or authorised for commercial operations, according to Valverde. Of those, 57 projects totalling 1.6GW have already sold power at recent auctions. The state of Bahia has another 1.6GW in new projects that are being licensed and a portfolio of some 8.9GW in wind projects starting their way through the red tape.

The Moinhos de Vento project is located in the Bahia highlands, around 600 kilometres from the Atlantic coast at roughly 600 metres above sea level. The site is considered to have one of the best and most regular wind resources in the state. Bahia has been aggressive in attracting wind-power suppliers and has secured business from around 20 companies including world-renowned manufacturers such as Spain's Gamesa and France's Alstom. These companies have already started production in the state, while GE is in talks with the state government to obtain benefits for a manufacturing unit it is planning there. Manufacturers have been attracted to Bahia by its proximity to a large amount of wind projects, which means that components have a shorter distance to travel on the poor road network.

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