Wind power exceeded 14.34 GW (gigawatts) of installed capacity in Brazil, equivalent to a plant at Itaipu – the second largest hydroelectric plant in the world.
In all, there are 568 wind farms in 12 states. The energy generated in the last 12 months is sufficient to supply 25 million homes per month, or about 75 million Brazilians, according to data from Abeeólica (Brazilian Wind Energy Association).
The source has experienced exponential growth in the country since 2009, stimulated by auctions promoted by the federal government to contract new ventures.
Expansion should continue. Counting the projects contracted in the last auctions promoted by the government, the projection is that by 2024 wind energy reaches at least 18.8 GW of installed capacity.
“Next year, we will reach the second position in the Brazilian electrical matrix. In January, we will achieve a greater participation than biomass plants, which today is the second largest source behind the hydroelectric plants, “says Elbia Gannoum, Abeeólica’s president.
“Wind expansion in Brazil is a success story. Ten years ago, there were few investors, today all large companies have investments in wind power plants, “says Thais Prandini, executive director of Thymos consultancy.
However, in addition to the celebration, the brand also lights an alert. The motive is the variable characteristic of wind power plants, whose generation depends on the regime of winds, which are not constant.
In September, in the latest data from ONS (National Operator of the Electric System), the generation of wind power plants accounted for 13.98% of all energy generated in the system, a record level. However, in that same month, the source came to occupy the minimum share of 1.1% in the national generation.
“It’s time to discuss more ways to ensure the country’s energy security,” says Gannoum.
The problem is not new, says PSR consultancy. The need for a supply of energy to ensure supply has been one of the most debated issues in recent years, according to the latest report by the utility company.
The issue has worsened since the country stopped building hydroelectric plants without a reservoir – works that have a far greater socio-environmental impact than the so-called water plants, which are more subject to water shortages.
The advance of sources such as wind and solar, whose generation also undergoes variations throughout the day or the year, is another factor that is increasingly relevant to the problem.
The possible solutions to this issue are diverse and today are the subject of heated discussions among representatives of the electricity sector.
For Prandini, Thymos, it is important to diversify the electrical matrix to minimize the risks of each source.
“One solution would be to do hybrid projects, with power plants with more than one source. Or even think of batteries, which today are not yet economically viable, but which are an important technology, “he says.
The PSR also points out possible solutions, such as changing the operation of hydroelectric dams to keep reservoirs full, using thermal plants to meet peak consumption, among others.
Today, the main proposal at the discussion table is the holding of regional auctions to contract natural gas-fired thermal plants. The Ministry of Mines and Energy opened a public consultation at the end of October to discuss the proposal, which is quite controversial in the sector.
For PSR, the proposal does not solve the problem due to failures in the structuring of the auction, which would be generating an additional cost to the consumer of energy without necessity.
The advancement of the wind power source also raises another debate: the end of subsidies given by the federal government to the sector in the past, to help consolidate the source in the country, and which today would no longer be needed.
Gannoum of Abeeólica agrees that the time has come to review these benefits, which include, for example, exemptions from energy transmission and distribution tariffs, which add to the consumer bill.
However, she argues that the end of the subsidy applies to all sources, not just to wind power. Today, in addition to wind power, other sectors of generation are gaining benefits, such as solar and coal.