Article published on www.aol.com, August 27th 2012
Blessed with abundant surface water resources and a considerable amount of associated hydroelectric power, Brazil has lots of renewable energy, and a lot of room to generate additional power from renewable sources like wind and solar.
Brazil is the world's second largest hydro power consumer behind China, but a sharp contrast between wet and dry seasons – along with occasional droughts – has driven the country to import LNG in recent years to supplement its energy security.
Brazil enjoys plenty of sun as well as strong winds, which bodes well for the future of distributed power generation and offers large corporations an opportunity to help meet their greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, sustainability goals and bolster their own energy security.
The 2012 Corporate Renewable Energy Index – produced by Vestas in partnership with Bloomberg – features 19 Brazilian companies, or Brazilian subsidiaries of multinational firms, all of which received a double-digit percentage of their 2011 total energy use from renewable sources. The average portion of renewable energy received by these 19 companies was 60%.
However, biomass and hydro were the only renewable energy sources reportedly used by these companies, according to the CREX data. As such, wind and solar power, as well as geothermal and other renewable energy sources have room to acquire market share in this space.
The Brazilian wind industry, in particular, has grown significantly in recent years with total installed capacity increasing by a 52% CAGR from 2002 to 2010, according to a report by the Global Wind Energy Council.
Wobben Windpower, a subsidiary of German company Enercon, was one of the first companies to enter the Brazilian market, with two manufacturing plants. "For years, this was the only company investing in manufacturing, and the major investor in wind farms," the Brazilian Wind Energy Association (ABEEólica) told AOL Energy via email.
"Bioenergy is another company that crossed boundaries, by building the first private wind farm in Brazil, selling energy to free consumers, even though we are still building this regulatory framework," said ABEEólica.
More recent entrants include the Argentinean company Impsa, as well as Suzlon, Alstom, Gamesa, GE Wind, Siemens and Vestas, according to the GWEC report.
Brazil has used an auction-based system to award wind power and other alternative energy projects like small hydro and biomass since 2009.
One of the 19 companies captured in the CREX data – Vale, a major metals and mining company – recently announced plans to invest in the construction of a wind farm located in the northeastern state of Ceara that will supply 124 MW of power used to fuel Vale's operations in the area. Earlier in 2012, Vale announced a deal in partnership with Pacific Hydro to develop two wind farms in the state of Rio Grande do Norte with a combined 140 megawatt capacity. The wind farms will supply power to Vale's mining operations for 20 years, in a deal that is reportedly the first of its kind in Brazil.
Although not currently a major renewable energy producer or consumer, the oil and gas industry is booming in Brazil and companies could become more involved in the renewable space as it grows.
Read about a wind farm developed by partially-state owned Brazilian oil and gas company Petrobras here.
The major international oil company Chevron operates several lubricating oil plants in Brazil and told AOL Energy the company is not currently using renewable energy supply to power these facilities, but would "consider the possibility of using renewable energy in the future," if it were cost competitive with other sources.
Companies looking to make their businesses more sustainable and target consumers who value sustainability and "green products" will soon be able to obtain "Clean Energy Certificates" in Brazil.
"ABEEólica, together with ABRAGEL (Brazilian Clean Energy Generation Association), is launching in a Clean Energy Certificate, which will be given to companies that buy energy directly from renewable energy generators, such as wind farms. This certificate is aimed to enhance socio-environmental responsibilities of companies, and giving consumers information on the environmental impacts of their consumption, and also the option to choose a more environmental-friendly product," ABEEólica said.