How to launch Brazil’s offshore wind sector

Brazil needs to tighten its permitting and regulatory structures and ensure its ports, grid and vessels are sufficient to facilitate project development if the country is to launch its offshore wind sector, according to a government roadmap.

Three 3GW clusters have already applied for environmental licensing, including one off Rio de Janeiro (above) (pic: NeedPix)

The South American country could also leverage the technological maturity, knowledge and experience achieved through international deployment as it launches its own offshore wind sector sector, state-owned energy research firm Empresa de Pesquisa Energetics (EPE) said.

But Brazil would need to upgrade its own ports and transmission infrastructure to support offshore wind development, the EPE stated.

It also suggested that surveys of supply chain companies’ preparedness and the availability of ships and vessels suitable for the transport, installation and maintenance involved in offshore wind should be carried out.

Existing regulations could broadly be extended to cover offshore zoning and environmental assessments for offshore wind, the EPE judged, but specific clauses to cover offshore wind will need to be added.

It does not make any firm recommendations on participation in energy auctions, but suggests that offshore wind’s competitiveness against other energy sources should be assessed as a first step.

The agency also stated that criteria should be adopted to assess competing bids if more than one stakeholder wants a license to use the same offshore site.

Meanwhile, laws governing onshore wind and other renewable energy sources’ participation in Brazil’s energy sector — including the rights to distribute electricity — could also address the delivery of offshore wind, the EPE stated. 

To date, there is no offshore wind capacity in Brazilian waters, but developers of six projects with a combined capacity of 9,715MW have already started the environmental licensing process.

These projects range in size from a 5MW pilot project planned for the waters off Rio Grande do Norte on Brazil’s north-eastern tip to three 3GW clusters to be built off Ceará, Rio Grande do Sul (both north-east) and Rio de Janeiro in the south-east.

Developers could add 697GW of offshore wind capacity at sites with wind speeds more than 7m/s and in waters shallower than 50 metres, the EPE stated in its offshore wind roadmap. 

But this could only happen if all other areas with conflicting uses or interests — including environmental protection areas, trade routes, birds’ migration routes, and oil exploration areas — are ignored.