The steep decline in the levelised cost of energy from offshore wind could enable it to take part in an energy auction in Brazil three years from now, the chief executive of the Brazilian Wind Energy Association (ABEEólica) believes
Elbia Gannoum told OWJ she believes offshore wind could be ready to compete in an auction for energy as soon as 2023 and construction of the country’s first offshore windfarm could get underway as soon as 2027.
Ms Gannoum said Brazil could have 16 GW of offshore wind by 2050, building out around 1 GW of offshore wind every year in the next decade and a half, an ambition Brazil’s mines and energy minister Bento Albuquerque recently described as feasible.
Ms Gannoum said several commercial-scale projects are currently awaiting decisions on environmental licences from the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis, IBAMA), the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment’s administrative arm.
When OWJ spoke to Ms Gannoum in late July, the results of the licence approvals were due within weeks.
Apart from the generating assets, in Brazil, environmental licensing of offshore windfarms must also include the transmission line that will conduct energy generated offshore to a connection point of the National Interconnected System (SIN).
Six projects are believed to be awaiting an environmental licence, one led by BIEnergia, which is said to be the most advanced in the process, three led by Neoenergia, and two others, Asa Branca and one in Ceará state.
“With a preliminary environmental licence, the door is open,” Ms Gannoum told OWJ. “The future is bright for a developer if they get to that stage because you can begin to make preparations for an auction.”
Brazil’s most recent national energy plan, completed in 2019, did not include offshore wind, because it was regarded as too expensive when the plan was launched. But ongoing cost reduction means that it could now be regarded more favourably, alongside other energy sources, such as solar power and natural gas. “The national energy plan that runs to 2030 will include offshore wind,” she said.
In Brazil’s regulated market for electricity supply, auctions regularly take place in which different forms of generation compete. “Offshore wind is ready to join the auction process,” Ms Gannoum said. “In the auctions, there is a price cap for each kind of generation. For natural gas it is around US$50, for instance. Because of cost reduction, offshore wind has reached the point at which it can compete.”
A January 2020 report on offshore wind in Brazil from the country’s Energy Research Office (EPE) found the country had huge potential in water depths of less than 50 m. The report, Roadmap Eólica Offshore Brasil, was commissioned to identify opportunities for offshore wind and the challenges if it is to be adopted in the country.
“This is a market that has been growing internationally, gaining in scale, learning and innovation, which has led to growing interest in the project development in Brazil,” said the authors of the report.
The report highlighted ongoing cost reduction in offshore wind in other countries, the trend to use larger turbines and the increased scale of offshore wind projects but claimed – perhaps erroneously – that compared with some existing alternatives already in use in Brazil, offshore wind costs “were still high.”
The roadmap identified some challenges for the full development of the offshore wind source in the national scenario. In EPE’s point of view, overcoming these challenges depends on the joint engagement of government agents, market agents and others interested in this segment.
Riviera held a series of webinars on offshore wind in June. These are available to view in our webinar library