Brazil aims at delayed wind farms

In a bid to avoid power shortages, the Brazilian government is stepping up its focus on the timely delivery of wind farms, most of which are delayed due to transmission issues.

It recently emerged that the government's energy supply monitoring committee (CMSE) agreed this spring to begin sending out formal communiques to developers, emphasizing the need to stick to project deadlines.

The decision was taken after the CMSE digested data showing that of 112 wind projects being monitored, nearly half – or 54 – are behind schedule.

Just 22 are considered on-schedule, with the remainder – or 36 projects – having been finished this April.

Of the projects which are delayed, 48 are due to problems and setbacks in the construction of power transmission infrastructure. Only 6 were due to delay in the construction works.

The CSME is an executive committee comprising officials from the Mines and Energy Ministry, the power regulator (Aneel), the national grid operator (ONS), Brazil's federal power company Eletrobras, the power trading chamber (CCEE) and the federal energy planning authority (EPE).

Most of the delayed projects – equivalent to 760MW of capacity – have seen their operational debuts postponed from April to June, or from June to July.

Another 117MW have seen worse delays, with their go-live dates rescheduled to April 2015 from June 2014, to coincide with the construction of the Igaporã III substation in the state of Bahia.

All of the delayed projects are located in the northeastern states of Bahia, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Piauí and Pernambuco.

The CMSE has nevertheless put forward the start date of 27 projects – worth 662MW – to October 2014 from January 2015, as transmission company ETN managed to overcome problems in the construction of the João Câmara III substation and 300km of transmission lines.

ETN is a special purpose company controlled by power company Chesf.

The CSME meets monthly to assess Brazil’s power supply in the face of long droughts that have depleted the country’s hydroelectric reservoirs, which account for more than 70% of the country’s 135GW of installed power-generation capacity.

To avoid power shortages, the government has switched on expensive and polluting thermal power plants, and wants to guarantee the expansion of power supply from other sources such as wind.

Brazil's wind power installed capacity currently stands around 3.1GW (or about 2% of the country's total), but only 2.7GW or so is operational. The rest lack connection to the national grid.