Brazil OKs new enviro-guidelines

The Brazilian Wind Power Association (Abeeólica) expects environmental licensing costs to decline after the federal government approved new nationwide guidelines.

“The government has recognised that wind power has a lower environmental impact and is good for the country since it does not emit CO2," Abeeólica's executive president, Élbia Melo, told Recharge.

She also said that the measures pave the way to speeding up of licensing, a problem that has held up many projects.

The guidelines were approved by the National Environmental Council (Conama) in June after over two years of meetings and studies.

Wind power projects are licensed separately by each of Brazil's 27 states, apart from the ones located close to national borders and which cross state boundaries, which need to be licensed by the federal environmental protection agency Ibama.

“Now all states will know how to carry out the licensing, especially as new projects are being built in states such as Piauí which are new to the technology," she said. “For developers, it will be clearer which kind of impact studies they will need to carry out."

States like Rio Grande do Norte, Bahia and Rio Grande do Sul already have clear licensing rules, but other states will be helped by the guidelines.

The new guidelines determine that low-impact projects be fast-tracked to obtain a license in up to 60  days.

For non-fast-track licensing, the time frame for the obtaining of licenses was kept between six and 12 months according to complexity.

Wind projects close to sand dunes, coastal swamp ares, migration routes and nesting regions of birds as well as other coastal regions certain ecosystems will not be considered to have a low impact.

The guidelines also determine minimum distances from natural and indigenous population reserves, towns and villages and urban centers. It also allows developers to obtain a single license in case of wind power complexes made up of several different plants in the same region.

Brazil's environment minister, Izabella Teixeira, said that Conama will now study new licensing guidelines for solar power and offshore wind projects.