The Brazilian economy has undergone several transformations in recent years. A positive change has been the growth of wind energy in the country, from an installed capacity of 230 MW in 2006 to 15.5 MW in 2019. Neoenergia was a pioneer in the national energy transition, starting the operation of its first wind complex 14 years ago. Now, with 17 parks in operation, 27 under construction and new projects on the radar, the company will triple the installed capacity of this clean source by 2022, reaching 1.6 GW. The supply of renewable energy is the company's core business, aligned with the global strategy of its parent company, Iberdrola, the leader in the sustainable energy model.
"The expansion of the renewable portfolio, especially wind generation, is a priority for us. We believe in the green resumption after the economic crisis and, thus, we maintained our investments in 2020, with emphasis on the progress of the works at the Chafariz Wind Complex, in Paraíba, as well as the beginning of construction of the Oitis Complex and the acquisition of new projects in Bahia. We are aware of the relevance of wind energy for the economy and the communities where the projects in development and operation are inserted", says Laura Porto, Neoenergia's Renewables Officer.
Today, the company has an installed capacity of 516 MW, in 17 wind farms in the states of Bahia, Rio Grande do Norte and Paraíba. This energy is enough to supply over 1.1 million households and avoid the emission of over 830,000 tons of CO2.
Rio do Fogo (RN), first Neoenergia's wind farm, which started operation in 2006, was one of the pioneers in the country as well. In addition, it was the first wind energy project granted with incentives through Proinfa (Incentive Program for Alternative Energy Sources), an initiative created by the federal government in 2002 to stimulate the use of renewable sources, such as wind, hydro (through small hydro power plants) and biomass. The plant has 62 wind turbines, with an installed capacity of 49.3 MW.
Since Rio do Fogo inauguration, wind power generation equipment has evolved and gained more efficiency. The wind turbines that will be used by Neoenergia in Oitis Wind Complex – which works were kicked off in November, three months ahead the schedule and with start-up slated for 2022 - are one of the most modern models in the world, with a unit capacity of 5.5 MW, almost 7 times higher than the model installed in Rio do Fogo, and 126 meters high, the equivalent of a 25-floor building.
Oitis will be Iberdrola's largest onshore wind complex in Latin America and the second largest in the world, with 566.5 MW of power in 12 farms, two in Bahia and ten in Piauí. "Our new wind power complexes mark a change in the business model, more focused on the energy free market, to meet a growing demand for clean energy from companies. 96% of Oitis energy will be allocated to the Free Contracting Environment. The use of renewable sources, with a focus on wind and solar energy, is an important sustainable practice, recognized by the market and by the stock market indexes", says Neoenergia's Renewable Business Development superintendent, Thaisa Almeida.
Chafariz Wind Complex is also under construction in Paraíba, with 87.5% of civil works completed in just over a year. The assembly of the wind turbines will be started in 2021. "In addition to the generation of clean energy from 2022 on, the project is a source of employment and income for the region of Santa Luzia, a city in Paraíba hinterland. In November, 1,423 people were working on the construction sites," says the Neoenergia's Renewable Projects Superintendent, Leandro Montanher.
In addition to the projects already under development, Neoenergia has acquired a pipeline of wind generation projects in Bahia, with a potential to be installed of 400 MW. The company also announced its entry into centralized photovoltaic generation, with the construction of the Luzia Solar Power Plant, also in Paraíba, which has a capacity of 149.3 MWdc and is expected to start operating in the second half of 2022.
The company is aligned with national projections, which sets an even stronger emphasis on wind energy. According to the 10-year plan of the Energy Research Company (EPE), wind and solar sources should represent 12% of installed capacity in 2021, a total of 20,487 MW, and jump to 20% in 2030, with 40,666 MW.
The implementation of wind farms contributes to improve the quality of life of the communities around the projects - in Brazil, 80% are in the Northeast. Between 2000 and 2010, the Municipality's Human Development Index (HDI) in locations that had received investments in wind energy increased 20%, according to a study by the consultancy GO Associados, released by the Brazilian Association of Wind Energy (ABEEólica).
Iberdrola also has as a priority the expansion of renewable energies, which will receive more than half of the investments planned until 2025. This strategy is in line with the group's commitments to meet environmental policies, such as the goal of neutralizing carbon emissions in 2030. Neoenergia and its parent company are committed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDOs) established by the United Nations in Agenda 2030, prioritizing access to clean energy and the fight against climate change.