Brazil puts 399 wind farms, 79 other energy projects out for bids - EFE

Brazil puts 399 wind farms, 79 other energy projects out for bids

Apr 30, 2010 - EFE

The Brazilian government put 399 wind farm projects and 79 other renewable energy projects up for bidding, with the auction expected to be held in two months, the state-owned Energy Research Corporation, or EPE, said.

The projects, if approved and completed, would add 14,529 MW to the country's electric grid, an amount just slightly greater than the generating capacity of Itaipu, the world's largest hydroelectric power plant, which Brazil operates jointly with Paraguay.

The wind farms, all of them slated for arid northeast Brazil, would add 10,569 MW to Brazil's generating capacity.

Northeastern Brazil is not suitable for hydroelectric power, the main source of energy used in the South American country.

Also up for bidding are 61 biomass projects, which would be fueled with sugar cane, adding 3,706 MW in generating capacity.

The government, moreover, is asking for bids on 18 small hydroelectric projects that would not require the construction of reservoirs.

The small hydro projects would add 255 MW to Brazil's total generating capacity.

Electricity sales contracts would take effect in 2013 for the wind farms and hydroelectric plants, and between 2011 and 2013 for the thermal projects, EPE said.

The agency said it would review all the bids received to ensure they meet the basic requirements listed in the auction documents.

The government has used auctions in recent years to diversify Brazil's power mix.

Hydroelectric power plants, according to official figures, currently generate nearly 80 percent of the electricity used in the South American country.

Last week, the government announced the winning bidders for the controversial $10.6 billion Belo Monte dam, which will have 4,571 MW of assured capacity, with that figure rising to 11,233 MW at times of maximum flow of the Xingu River, one of the Amazon's main tributaries.

Belo Monte would be the world's third-largest hydroelectric dam after China's Three Gorges Dam and Itaipu.

A public-private group led by Brazilian state-owned company Chesf won the bidding for the construction of Belo Monte, which has been opposed by environmental, Indian and peasant groups, the National Electric Energy Agency, or Aneel, announced on April 20.

After a court battle in which opponents of the project secured at least three injunctions only to see them quickly overturned, Aneel said it had awarded a contract for the hydroelectric complex.

Construction of the dam would flood close to 500 kilometers (310 miles) of Amazon jungle.

Canadian director James Cameron, best known for the blockbusters "Titanic" and "Avatar," in which a tribe on a distant moon defends itself from encroachment by human beings seeking a precious mineral, has helped bring international attention to the cause of the Indians and grassroots groups opposing Belo Monte.

Hundreds of people, including Cameron, actress Sigourney Weaver and members of the production team of the film "Avatar," demonstrated earlier this month in Brasilia against the project.