Relying heavily on hydro power to fuel socio-economic development, Brazil is increasingly looking to clean, renewable wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources to augment hydroelectric capacity and help meet growing demand for electricity and transportation. In turn, Brazil’s Eolicas do Sul is looking to ABB for electrical substation and transmission infrastructure equipment as it works to integrate more wind-generated electricity into Brazil’s electrical grid.
The Brazilian electric utility and wind power developer has placed a $55 million order with ABB to supply three new substations and associated transmission infrastructure in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul bordering Uruguay, the Swiss multinational announced late last week.
The project contract calls for ABB to supply, install and commission the substations — two turn-key 34.5/138-kV and one 138/500-kV — as well as step-up power transformers and air- and gas-insulated switchgear. The step-up transformers will increase the voltage of wind-generated electrical power so that it can be integrated within Brazil’s grid.
Building Out Brazil’s Wind Power Infrastructure
ABB is also to provision the substations with supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and telecommunications systems, as well as substation automation, control, and protection equipment compliant with IEC 61850 standards.
In addition, ABB is to provide and install two 138-kV overhead transmission lines that will integrate a new 400-MW wind power plant — one of the largest in the country — into Brazil’s national grid. The wind power plant is scheduled for completion in 2014.
More electricity is consumed in Brazil than in any other Latin American country — twice as much as neighboring Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, ABB adds. By way of broader perspective, at just over 100,000 MW, its installed electricity generation capacity is comparable to that of Italy or the United Kingdom.
At present, the 150-MW Osorio Wind Farm in Rio Grande do Sul is the largest wind power generation complex in Latin America, according to the Brazilian government. The wind power complex consists of three wind farms with a total of 75 2-MW wind turbines installed atop concrete towers 100-meters high.
A growing population — projected to reach 220 million by 2020 — and rapid industrialization is fueling rising demand for electricity in Brazil. The country’s expected electricity generation capacity requirement is forecast to grow to reach some 150,000 MW by 2020, ABB notes.
“These substations will help to integrate wind energy and boost power supplies to meet growing industrial, commercial and residential demand,” commented Brice Koch, head of ABB’s Power Systems division. “They will also reinforce the transmission grid and help improve reliability, efficiency and power quality.”
Slowly, but Surely, Brazil Emerges as a Leading Market for Wind Power
Slowly but surely, Brazil is emerging as leading market for wind power, according to a study conducted by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and Brazilian Wind Energy Association (ABEEolica). Though wind power growth was small in absolute terms in Brazil in 2010, total installed wind power capacity rose 50% to reach the 1,000 MW threshold.
The Brazilian government’s PROINFA program, which was introduced in 2002, and regulated, regularly scheduled wind power project development auctions, which have taken place since 2009, have been keys to growth of installed wind power capacity in the country, the GWEC notes. As much as 5,000 MW of wind power could be installed in Brazil by year-end 2013, GWEC forecasts.
The Brazilian government’s taken actions to assure that the substantial economic and social benefits of promoting and fostering wind power and renewable energy growth are realized in the country itself.
Brazil’s national development bank, BNDES, shut five of the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturers out from the country’s $3.5 billion wind power market for failing to obtain the legally required 40% of wind turbine components from local suppliers, according to a July 20 Bloomberg report.
Acciona SA, Fuhrlaender AG, Vestas A/S, Siemens AG, and Suzlon Energy Ltd. are no longer eligible for BNDES financing, which effectively shuts them out of the Brazilian market, as such loans are the only source of funding for turbines. Unable to obtain BNDES loans to purchase wind turbines from the manufacturers, wind power project developers will either suspend construction on some projects or switch vendors, according to Bloomberg’s report.
I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.