Brazil plays catch-up on transmission lines

BRAZIL: Expansion of transmission lines is already being planned for the new wind projects that will emerge from energy auctions later this year.

Mauricio Tolmasquim, president of Brazil’s Energy Research Company
Mauricio Tolmasquim, president of Brazil’s Energy Research Company

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"This year we plan to connect about 2,900MW to the grid, 250MW of which is already linked," said Mauricio Tolmasquim, president of Brazil’s Energy Research Company (EPE), the government body responsible for energy planning. "In addition, we have three auctions for 2015: a renewable sources bid in April, the A-3 new energy bid in July, and a reserve energy bid in September."

The rapid expansion of wind power outpaced the extension of transmission lines, and in 2013 many completed projects were left unconnected, receiving government subsidies but unable to deliver power. The EPE effected a catch-up in 2014, and, according to GWEC, less than 300MW now remains unconnected.

Market indicators show promising expectations for wind development this year, said Tolmasquim, with 530 wind projects registered for the first auction, representing almost 13GW. "That is a huge push for the wind market," he said.

Energy delivery from the first auction will be in 2017, and the A-3 auction wins must deliver in three years, by 2018.

Wind has become competitive in the country, according to the Brazilian Wind Energy Association (Abeeólica). The first bids of 2009 were priced at US$60.72/MWh, which fell to $41.74/MWh in 2014. Wind complements hydro, which is Brazil’s major energy source, said the association.

Almost 2.5GW was installed in 2014 and, according to Abeeólica figures, by 2019 wind power in Brazil may reach 16.5GW, providing 8.5% of the country’s energy mix.

Tolmasquim confirmed that wind will gradually increase its share in the Brazilian energy matrix. "It already has a relevant role in the electricity supply in the country with nearly 6GW, a little over half the capacity of Belo Monte [hydroelectric dam in the state of Pará]," he said.

EPE’s ten-year plan (2013-2023) suggests that within a decade wind will represent 11% of the Brazilian energy matrix, with over 20GW installed. "More than 82% of it, or 16.5GW, is already in operation or contracted in the bidding," said Tolmasquim.

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