Of the seven existing offshore wind energy projects in Brazil with wind turbines, four are installed in the state of ceará, which has favorable conditions to attract investment. An unexplored treasure in Brazil. This is how experts currently value offshore wind energy, obtained through the force of the wind at sea.
With gigantic power generation potential in this modality, the country still does not have projects in the area, but Ceará, which has the highest potential among the Brazilian states, stands out as the favorite to receive the first investments, since it has four projects in progress. According to the Wind and Solar Atlas of Ceará, the potential for offshore wind power generation in the State is approximately 117 GW, which corresponds to practically a third of the capacity of the entire Northeast region for areas with a depth of up to 50 meters, estimated in 360 GW through the roadmap of the Energy Research Company (EPE), linked to the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
According to Jurandir Picanço, president of the Renewable Energy Sector Chamber (CS Renováveis) of the Ceará Development Agency (Adece), the state’s offshore wind power generation potential is even greater than onshore, the traditional modality, carried out in Earth. “We have the best situation in the country, along with Rio Grande do Norte. Furthermore, Ceará has the advantage of having a shallow coastline, which facilitates the implementation of wind farms and reduces the cost of foundations ”, he points out.
Still, according to Jurandir, offshore wind is the fastest growing generation modality in Europe, especially in regions such as Germany, Denmark and the UK, although these locations have much less favorable conditions than those found in Ceará. According to the president of CS Renováveis, the average capacity factor (actual use of winds by wind turbines) in Europe is approximately 30%, while in the State, this index reaches 60%.
“We have an excellent quality of winds and favorable conditions for the arrival of investments in offshore wind generation. For this reason, I believe that the State Government has a great interest in supporting these projects, since Ceará should concentrate the largest number of wind farms in Brazil. This would boost the local industry and create the conditions for a large chain ”, says Jurandir Picanço.
For the president of CS Renováveis, if the State effectively wins offshore wind generation parks in the future, it is likely that companies will also start producing wind turbines in Ceará territory, as is already the case with onshore wind generation, which has large companies, such as Aeris, in the manufacture of wind blades in the Pecém or Vestas Industrial and Port Complex.
Projects in Ceará
Currently, Brazil has seven offshore wind generation projects, seeking environmental licenses from the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama). Of these, four are destined to be installed in Ceará, including construction works in municipalities such as Caucaia, São Gonçalo do Amarante, Amontada and Camocim. Together, the team projects a total power of almost 5 GW, coming from approximately 400 wind turbines to be installed on the coast of Ceará.
Responsible for two of these four projects in the State, BI Participações e Investimentos, a company with Brazilian and Italian capital, has the expectation of obtaining the prior license to continue the project of the Caucaia-Parazinho Offshore Wind Farm, started in 2016, which foresees a project with 310 MW of total power and 59 wind turbines. According to Lúcio Bonfim, executive director of the company, the investment would be R $ 7 billion.
“We carried out the Environmental Impact Study (EIA) and presented it to Ibama in December 2019. Subsequently, there was a public hearing and, in August, we received an opinion on the previous license, which was rejected,” explains Lúcio. According to him, even with the negative result, the company is confident that the document can be released with some conditions. After that, we will look for the installation and operation licenses ”, he adds.
Even more ambitious than the Caucaia project, the Camocim Offshore Wind Farm, also conceived by BI Participações e Investimentos, entered its environmental licensing process on July 3. According to Lúcio Bonfim, the project, which foresees the installation of 100 wind turbines and a total power of 1.2 GW, is budgeted at R $ 14 billion, a very high value, but which, according to him, is justified by the enormous capacity generation.
“The cost of installing an offshore wind generation project is much higher, but it becomes competitive due to the high power generation. To give you an idea, Ceará has 633 onshore wind projects and, if we had only 17 of this offshore project planned for Caucaia, it would be enough to reach the total generation of all of them ”, says Lúcio Bonfim.
In addition to the idealized parks for Caucaia and Camocim, Ceará also has the Asa Branca I Maritime Wind Complex project, which plans to bring together ten offshore wind farms and 50 wind turbines, each with 40 MW of power, with a construction site in the rear area of ??the Port of Pecém. Another ongoing project, the most ambitious in the entire state, is the Jangada Maritime Complex, which aims for a total capacity of 3 GW, distributed in four wind farms between Amontada and Itarema, totaling 200 wind turbines.
According to estimates by CS Renováveis, only the Jangada offshore complex project, which would occupy more than 95 thousand hectares, would be responsible for investments in excess of R $ 28 billion in the territory of Ceará.
Challenges to overcome
For Armando Abreu, an electrical engineer and renewable energy consultant, Brazil is still taking its first steps in offshore wind generation, which creates some challenges for those who wish to invest in projects in the country. “The projects do not advance because there is a great legal vacuum. Why are these wind farms so competitive in Europe, for example? Because although there is a great difference in the cost of implementation, the high energy productivity ends up compensating for this difference ”, says Armando, who is also the founder of the Brazilian Wind Energy Association (ABEEólica).
According to Armando, Brazil has, in general, three major obstacles in relation to the installation of offshore wind farms: the business environment, which still needs to be developed further; environmental and licensing agility, which plays an important role in project development; and the question of financing, which, with the situation of the pandemic and the exchange rate, is currently quite uncertain.
Another challenge that must be overcome is the legal aspect for the installation of the projects, according to Eugênio Vieira, a lawyer in the infrastructure area and specialist in renewable energies. According to him, some barriers must be overcome for offshore generation to advance in the country.
“It is a company within the sea, which is owned by the Union, which makes it necessary to regulate the rights of use. It is not enough to do a study in a certain area to acquire the right to it. There are a series of legal loopholes that must be overcome ”, comments Eugênio Vieira.
At the end of last year, the Federal Senate approved the project that regulates offshore wind generation in the country, which gave more strength to the projects that currently exist. However, according to experts, a large Federal Government project is still needed to encourage this type of generation throughout the national territory.