By Climate Scorecard Brazil Country Manager Elis Cotosky
Brazil has the largest renewable energy potential in the world. Over the past few years, both wind and solar have proven to be a good, and increasingly cheap, alternative to fossil fuels. These energy sources have grown more than 20 times from 2009 to 2019, representing more than 10% of the country’s installed energy capacity, distributed across 600 wind farms and 2400 solar plants, according to the Statistical Yearbook of Electric Energy published by the Brazilian Energy Research Company (EPE).¹
Maximizing the use of the country’s natural resources
One renewable energy project that stands out is “Fonte dos Ventos”, the first Brazilian hybrid energy park which was constructed in 2015 in the state of Pernambuco. It was the result of a public-private partnership between Enel Green Power and the state’s government, with a total cost of 148 million USD at the time.²
The case is relevant due to its hybrid characteristic: from the plant’s current capacity, 80 MW comes from 34 wind turbines and 11MW from 2 solar farms – which represented a 30% increase in the Brazilian solar installed capacity in 2015. In total, that represents a generation of 340 GWh annually, enough to supply energy for 250 thousand households in the country.³
According to EGP’s CEO in Brazil, Luigi Parisi, combining both technologies in one plant allows more efficient use of the distribution infrastructure. In this case, the wind and solar energy generated from Fonte dos Ventos’ complex was able to be distributed through the same substation—therefore reducing costs and natural resource consumption while making it more space-efficient. This integration also allows more network stability for energy generation as it mitigates the daily weather condition effects.4
Carbon mitigation impact
From an environmental standpoint, this higher efficiency in the resources used helps to promote a larger decrease in CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. It is expected that the Fonte dos Ventos hybrid farm promotes a decrease of 131 thousand tCO2 every year. From that, 5 thousand tCO2 come from the solar generation, and 126 thousand tCO2 from the wind plant.
Potential for scaling-up
According to Enel Green Power the project performed positively within the company’s expectations. So much so that an expansion of 99 MW in wind power, called Fonte dos Ventos II, was announced in December 2020, with an estimated cost of 84 million USD.5 For the CEO, those results are important to set an example for other companies in the industry and lead the way for other projects in the same style.
For this innovation to help on a larger scale, it is important that companies analyze diligently the wind and solar capacities of the regions being researched and try to select areas where those natural resources are complementary to each other. Moreover, it is important to understand the infrastructure surrounding the region and what distribution investments would be necessary.
Besides the analysis of weather resources in the region, it is also imperative to be attentive to the regulatory framework in place as a lack of specific ground rules for hybrid parks can cause bureaucratic delays in the implementation of the project. Such is the case in Brazil, where the Brazilian Electricity Regulatory Agency (ANEEL) is still in the process of developing regulations for hybrid parks. A major model is Grand Renewable Energy Park in Ontario, Canada, a hybrid plant with an installed capacity of 150 MW of wind power and 100 MW of photovoltaic power, which can generate energy for almost sixty-four thousand Canadian homes every year. 7
Ministry of Mines and Energy (responsible for formulating and implementing national policies on the energy sector)
Telephone: +55 61 2032-5555
ANEEL (has technical and political autonomy to regulate, supervise and monitor activities related to the energy sector)