Brazil attracts Australian investor

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Even with a deal of market uncertainty (main story), Brazil's incentives for renewables continue to attract international investment. Australian energy company Pacific Hydro has bought Soluções de Energia Sustentáveis Ltda (SES), the Brazilian division of Enersys, a German wind project developer. As part of the deal, Pacific Hydro acquired the 10.2 MW Millennium wind project, now under construction in the windy north eastern state of Paraiba, along with licences for a further two projects with a combined potential capacity of 153 MW.

The acquisition is Pacific Hydro's first step into the Latin American wind market from its operational base in Chile. The company's Rob Grant says the intention is to pump more than $394 million into developing over 300 MW of clean energy assets in Brazil in the coming years.

The Millennium project of 13 turbines supplied by Wobben Windpower, the Brazilian arm of Germany's Enercon, is expected online before the end of the year. It is among the first subsidised under the national renewable energy program, Proinfa. Separately, the project licenses acquired by Pacific Hydro are for two developments in Rio Grande do Norte state -- Paraíso Azul at 51 MW and Paraíso Farol at 102 MW. Both of these have qualified to participate in what has become a controversial auction of renewable energy power purchase contracts, to take place on June 18.

In a separate deal shortly afterwards, Pacific Hydro also bought Bioenergy's 45 MW Vale dos Ventos wind farm, which has a power contract from the first round of Proinfa and is located near the Millennium site. The company would like to target more Proinfa projects, but Pacific Hydro's Janine Hoey sees the nail-biting 2008 deadline for completion of construction as a hurdle due to the shortage of turbine manufacturers in the local market.

She says Pacific Hydro is doing due diligence on several projects in the northeast of Brazil where average wind speeds are above eight metres a second.

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