Brazil's WEG eyes turbine exports

Brazilian electrical equipment maker WEG has a long-term plan to export a locally-made 3.3MW wind turbine that it is developing in Brazil, using technology licensed from Northern Power Systems (NPS).

“First we will supply the Brazilian market, but, after a while, our long term view is to produce wind power turbines for certain parts of the world,” João Paulo Gualberto Silva, WEG's wind power director tells Recharge.

He cites South America as a possible market but declined to say when potential sales abroad could occur.

WEG is in the middle of a three-year research and development program to build the 3.3MW unit in Brazil. The initial prototype is expected to start tests in the first half of 2016.

The R&D project is being co-developed with power company Tractebel – a unit of GDF Suez – with total investment of R$160m ($72m). WEG is investing R$88m and Tractebel, R$72m, according to Silva.

WEG is one of the biggest electrical and generation equipment suppliers in Brazil, with clients in the oil and gas, small-scale hydroelectric and biomass generation and transmission and distribution sectors. In wind, WEG already supplies wind farm transmission links and substations, claiming 30% of the current market.

It decided to enter the wind market in 2011 as it had already been supplying generators to turbine manufacturers in Brazil and abroad, including US vendor Clipper.

“WEG already made most of the parts for a wind turbine, so it was a natural consequence to produce the whole thing," he says.

WEG initially partnered with Spain's M Torres Olvega Industrial (MTOI) in 2012. Since the agreement didn't produce results, a new deal was struck in 2013 with NPS, which included development of a 3.3MW turbine and sale of NPS's 2.1MW machine in Brazil.

WEG has so far signed two supply contracts: 11 turbines for the 23MW Bons Ventos da Serra I, being built by local developer Servtec, and 46 machines for part of the 204MW Energia dos Ventos Complex, being built by local company Alupar. Both plants are located in the northeastern Ceará state.

According to Silva, the first machines for the Servtec deal should leave WEG’s plant in southern Brazil in coming days.