Argentinian turbines in Brazil -- From hydro plant to wind

The Brazilian wind power subsidiary of Argentina's Industrias Metallurgicas Perscarmona SA (IMPSA), a global supplier of hydro power plant, is setting up a wind turbine assembly plant at the port of Suape in Brazil's northern state of Pernambuco. In doing so, Wind Power Energía SA (WPE) is competing with Germany's Fuhrländer to be the second company after Wobben Windpower, an offshoot of German Enercon, to produce wind turbines in Brazil. Based on a technology license agreement with German company Vensys, WPE will assemble a 1.5 MW machine for the Brazilian market. Previously, IMPSA has also designed a 1.5 MW turbine in-house, although the prototype is no longer in operation. Both designs are among the rash of new wind turbine types appearing on the market that use permanent magnet generators and dispense with a gearbox. Vensys has also licensed its design to China's Goldwind, the dominant wind turbine supplier to the Chinese market, to Eozen in Spain, to Vector in Canada and to EKD in the Czech Republic. Vensys was founded in 2000 by a group of wind engineers at the University of Saarbrucken.

IMPSA is investing $82 million in the Brazilian assembly plant, which is due to start turning out machines in May 2008, both for export and the local market. The 40,000 square metre facility will be operational in stages and when complete have capacity for production of 200 machines a year. The plant will initially assemble nacelles and later expand into blades and towers. Production of a 3 MW unit is potentially slated for the future.

To encourage manufacture of turbines in Brazil, 60% of expenditure on a wind plant's capital cost must be made domestically before wind projects become eligible for power purchase contracts under the government's Programa de Incentivo as Fontes Alternativas de Energia Eletrica (Proinfa) program. IMPSA's wind project development business has secured contracts for three wind farms in Brazil with a combined capacity of more than 300 MW. It is investing $394 million in two projects in Santa Catarina -- Agua Doce at 125.8 MW and Bom Jardín da Serra at 90 MW -- and a further three projects dotted along the Ceara coast -- Volta do Río at 42 MW and two at 28.8 MW each, Praia de Parajurú and Praia do Morgado.