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Italian Enel buys rights to eight early stage projects

The latest international wind developer to move into Brazil's hot, arid north-eastern region is Italian energy utility Enel. Last month it bought the rights to eight wind power projects in early stage development from Germany's Sowitec International in the states of Ceará, Bahia, Rio Grande do Norte and Sergipe. The projects range in size from 56 MW to 200 MW. Through the agreement, Sowitec will develop up to 1000 MW of wind power for Enel, which sees the Northeast as a promising market with some of the country's strongest winds. Sowitec is currently assessing local and international turbine suppliers to provide equipment. Thomas Schulthess, Sowitec's director in Brazil, says the company's entire project pipeline contains plans for about 50 wind farms. Several have the necessary environmental licences and as many as 15 projects could be in construction next year, he adds. None of Sowitec's projects were selected for power purchase contracts under the current incentive program, the Programa de Incentivo às Fontes Alternativas de Energia Elétrica. Schulthess is intending to bid them into a competitive tender process the government is to launch next year. Sowitec is also developing new projects in Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Peru, but Schulthess declines to say whether the company plans to work with Enel elsewhere. Sowitec is in talks with other European investors about developing wind projects in Latin America, he says.

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