Business: Brazil base for global wind giant

US firm GE Energy is establishing a wind turbine manufacturing base in Brazil.

It will produce 1.5 MW machines in the city of Campinas, in Sao Paulo state, for use across Latin America, although the company will not yet say what the factory's annual output will be or when it is expected to become operational.

"Brazil offers a large potential to become a major export centre for this technology to all of the Latin American countries," says John Krenicki, GE Energy Infrastructure's chief executive. Sao Paulo is already home to GE's main supplier of blades for its global operations, Brazilian manufacturer Tecsis. More than 3000 of Tecsis' 5000 employees in Sorocaba, Sao Paulo, work exclusively on GE blade contracts. Meantime, GE says it has invested more than BRL 145 million ($84.4 million) in training, equipment, establishing test facilities and developing new blades and components with its suppliers in Brazil.

The company expects to participate in the Brazilian government's forthcoming auctions for wind project capacity, says Rafael Santana, GE Energy's chief executive in Latin America. The auctions are expected to support the development of up to 1 GW of new wind projects in Brazil. They were originally scheduled to take place last month, but were postponed to December 14 because regulators were inundated with submissions for participation. GE is one of the suppliers Australian developer Pacific Hydro has been considering teaming up with for the auctions, says Mark Argar, general manager of the company's Brazilian division, Pacific Hydro Energia do Brasil.

In other news, Siif energies do Brasil is establishing itself as one of the country's more formidable wind developers with the inauguration of the 54 MW Eolica Icaraizinho on the coast of Brazil's north-east state of Ceara. The project operates with long-term contracts under the Programa de Incentivo as Fontes Alternativas de Energia Eletrica (Proinfa), Brazil's renewable energy programme.

Siif already has three wind farms under its belt in the Ceara state under Proinfa - all using Suzlon turbines. The largest is the 105 MW Central Eolica Praia Formosa wind plant, followed by the 25 MW Foz do Rio Choro and the 23 MW Central Eolica de Paracuru. Siif also plans to build its largest wind plant, the 135 MW Central Eolica Quintilha Machado, on the coast of Rio de Janeiro state by the end of 2010.