While attention has mainly been focused on the oil reserves available along the Brazilian coast, many seem to have overlooked the great potential that wind energy has in Brazil.
The first wind energy generator started working in Brazil in 1992. It was the result of a partnership between the Centro Brasileiro de Energia Eólica - Portuguese for Brazilian Center of Wind Energy, or CBEE - and the Companhia Energética de Pernambuco - Portuguese for Pernambuco Energy Company, or CELPE - through funding of the Danish Folkecenter search institute.
Initially, after this, not much was done in terms of developing this sector. However in 2001, when a large drought affected the production of energy in hydropower plants - which were at that time responsible for more than 70% of the national energy production - efforts were made to take advantage of the wind potential in the country.
Government Program for Alternative Energy Sources
PROINFA, short for Programa de Incentivo às Fontes Alternativas de Energia Elétrica, which is Portuguese for Incentive Program for Alternative Sources of Energy, was created in 2004 in order to boost renewable energy production in Brazil.
Besides encouraging the development of the national production of alternative renewable energy sources, PROINFA also helped establish the industry in Brazil and provided wind turbines and their components, while generating around 150.000 direct and indirect jobs.
PROINFA focuses on three different energy sectors in order to diversify the Brazilian energy matrix, they are:
- Small hydro energy plants
- Wind energy
PROINFA encourages investment in these three energy sectors by means of a series of benefits such as:
- Auctions for the sale of energy at fixed prices
- Purchasing contract of 20 years, with Eletrobrás
- Special financing conditions by BNDES
Wind Energy Production in Brazil
As a result of the efforts of PROINFA, Brazil possesses an installed capacity of more than 6,5 GW, contributing to 4,7% of the national energy production in Brazil, according to ABEEólica, the Brazilian Association of Wind Power. In fact, wind was the third main source of energy production in Brazil, trailing only to biomass - 9,1% and hydropower - 84,9%.
The estimates for the end of 2017 are that wind energy production in Brazil will be 8,7 GW.
According to CETESB, the State Environmental Company of the state of São Paulo, the production of wind energy reduces the emissions of CO2 in Brazil per year by more than 11.600.000 tons, which is good for the annual emission of 7 million vehicles.
There are, as of May 2015, 262 wind energy production plants in Brazil. The region which produces the most wind energy in Brazil is understandably the Northeast, where deserted beaches and flatlands, coupled with strong winds, make an ideal spot for the production of wind energy.
Out of all the operating wind energy production plants in Brazil, 195 are located in the Northeastern Region, and account for the production of more than 4,3 GW. Most of them are in the states of Rio Grande do Norte, Ceará and Bahia, with 84, 45 and 40 production plants, respectively.
The only other region that contributes significantly to the production of wind energy in Brazil is the Southern region, with 55 production plants, being accountable for the production of 1,3 GW.
With new wind energy production plants expected to add another 6 GW of installed capacity in Brazil, the country will trail only to China in terms of expansion of wind energy production in 2015. By the end of 2015, Brazil expects to have the 7th most installed capacity for wind energy production in the world.
Again, most power plants construction projects are located in the Northeastern region, with the following states leading the way:
- Bahia, with 153 new production plants
- Rio Grande do Norte, with 92 new production plants
- Ceará, with 58 new production plants
- Piauí, with 41 new production plants