Brazil offshore project struggling to secure finance

Asa Branca wind farm to measure windspeed at site

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The giant Asa Branca offshore wind project, which would see 11.2GW of wind generating capacity built off the state of Ceará in northern Brazil, is still on the drawing board ten years after it was first announced.

A pilot phase was originally due for construction in 2009. Developer Eólica Brasil claims that it now has most of the required permits to proceed, but it has not, thus far, managed to attract the necessary investment. Each of its planned 23 phases has an estimated cost of R$1.2bn ($590m).

Earlier this month Eólica Brasil and Offshore Wind Power Systems of Texas (OWPST) launched a joint venture company, Servemar, to provide equipment and services for the offshore wind market in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Eólica Brasil’s CEO Marcello Storrer told Brazilian energy specialist publication, Jornal da Energia, that the company plans to install one of OWPST’s Titan 200 platforms to measure windspeed at the Asa Branca site in order to demonstrate the project’s generating potential to investors.

That there are no other offshore wind projects in the pipeline in Brazil is testament to the competitiveness of the country's onshore wind sector, according to the Brazilian wind power association (ABEEólica).

"Onshore wind costs around $55/MWh, making it the most competitive technology after large hydro," Elvia Melo, ABEEólica’s executive director-president told Windpower Offshore.

"The Brazilian government is continuing to auction onshore generating capacity and given onshore wind’s low price and the availability of suitable sites, it is set to expand strongly," she said. The Global Wind Energy Council expects Brazil’s onshore capacity to grow from the current 1.75 GW to around 8.5GW by 2016.

"Given that the cost of offshore development is high it is a bit difficult to understand why the Asa Branca development is being pursued," said Melo.

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