Brazil Windpower 2014: Grid completion allows GE projects to come out of two year idle phase

BRAZIL: The wind energy landscape in Brazil is finally changing following the government's Proinfa regulations change in 2009.

Jean-Claude Fernand Robert: GE was successful in auctions following end of Proinfa
Jean-Claude Fernand Robert: GE was successful in auctions following end of Proinfa

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Having just announced 1GW installations across Brazil, Jean-Claude Fernand Robert, director of renewables Latin America for GE Power and Water, explains the rapid growth.

GE then entered the Brazilian market in strength, winning contracts to produce 381 turbines in the subsequent auctions that took place. These projects were complete in 2012 but were not connected to the grid until this year, through a delay in construction of new transmission lines.

The shortfall in production output from the project is currently compensated to the project owner by the government, but that subsidy model finishes in 2015, and the responsibility of grid connection reverts back to operator/owners.

Once the grid was ready, earlier this year, the 184 turbines destined for Renova Energia were up and running within five days.

During the two years waiting for connection, GE operated a running-idle programme, keeping them available, checking that all works fine for when operation begins. With many of the projects signed up for GE maintenance contracts, the company will start to run and operate these projects for real. GE has further projects that are ready but will not go online until later this year or early next year.

GE is selling its 1.6MW and 1.7MW turbines with 82.5 and 100 metre rotors to the Brazilian market, because this range is very competitive, said Robert. But the company has  invested in the evolution of the platform and in 2016 we will switch to manufacturing of the 2.0MW 1600 and 2.3MW 107 rotor models.

"We decided to manufacture in the Campinas facilities, adapting to produce hubs in 2010, and with current local content BNDES requirements we can also do nacelles and machine heads. It is easy to increase capacity at this facility. We can do 10 turbines a week," Robert said. "We are comfortable with the capacity of our facilities."

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