Giant offshore wind clusters planned off Brazil

Permitting starts for 2.1GW complex off Rio de Janeiro, while Rio Grande do Norte eyes offshore wind and green hydrogen

Prumo Logística plans to build a 2GW--plus offshore wind farm off Rio de Janeiro, under the watchful eyes of Christ, The Redeemer (pic credit: Artyom Sharbatyan/Wikimedia Commons)

Developers and investors have announced plans for several gigawatt-scale offshore wind farms off Brazil.

Prumo Logística has started the permitting process for the 2160MW Ventos do Açu offshore wind cluster, comprising 144 wind turbines of 12-15MW, for a total installed capacity of up to 2.16GW, off Rio de Janeiro. The developer is a partnership between American fund EIG Global Energy Partners and Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company

It filed an environmental licensing application with the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) earlier this month. Completion of the environmental permitting stage is expected within two years.

The complex will comprise four offshore wind farms, each with 36 turbines and 540MW of capacity, Prumo Logística stated. The projects are to be located 20-54km off the coast of Campos dos Goytacazes and São João da Barra, in northern Rio de Janeiro, in water depths of 14-67 metres. 

Other developments

In a separate development, Singapore-headquartered developer Enterprize Energy has signed an agreement with the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Norte to help it identify and develop opportunities for multi-gigawatt-scale offshore wind, green hydrogen and green ammonia projects off the country’s northern coastline.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) incorporates site and impact assessments, supply chain appraisal and infrastructure requirements — including proposed new port facilities — for offshore wind and green hydrogen production.

“The northeastern coastline of Brazil holds great potential. We are collaborating with businesses, local government and universities in Rio Grande do Norte in a bid to identify and develop sites for offshore green energy projects that will substantially benefit local communities,” said Enterprize Energy chairman Ian Hatton.

The economic viability of co-developed desalination and green hydrogen production hubs will also be assessed, both for local distribution and export to global markets.

"Advances in wind-driven electrolysis should enable Rio Grande do Norte to become a centre for green, zero-carbon hydrogen and ammonia production in South America,” Hatton added. 

Enterprize Energy claims to have enabled the development of almost 5GW of energy projects since 2018. It is involved in offshore wind farms off Vietnam and Taiwan.

The state of Rio Grande do Norte is the leading Brazilian state in renewable energy development, with over two-thirds of its energy generation originating from renewable sources, mostly hydropower. 

As concerns over the environmental impacts of hydropower gain pace, and with drought a growing problem, many Brazilian states are looking to the potential for large-scale offshore wind development.

Jaime Calado, secretary for economic and commercial development of the Rio Grande do Norte State government, said: “We are pleased to be working collaboratively with Enterprize Energy to identify and develop the numerous exciting opportunities off the coast of Rio Grande do Norte to unlock future sources for our nation’s energy.”

Another MoU was signed last month by French renewable energy company Qair to build an offshore wind farm supporting green hydrogen production in the northern Brazilian state of Ceará.

A roadmap by Brazil’s state-owned energy research firm Empresa de Pesquisa Energetics (EPE) said the Brazilian coastline could support 700GW of offshore wind capacity. 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.