Grid links at last for Brazil 503MW

Brazil's state-owned utility Chesf is due to plug in 503MW of wind farms in February, after delaying by almost two years the transmission infrastructure build-up needed to grid-connect them.

The three wind complexes to be connected – which are located in the northeast state of Rio Grande do Norte (RN) – belong to local developers CPFL Renováveis, Desa and Serveng.

Early this week Chesf was given the “operational licence” for its João Câmara substation, according to RN's environmental agency Idema.

A Chesf press official told Recharge that the grid-connection process will start on 9 February, although the exact schedule for the link ramp-up is “still going to be defined”.

CPFL's 188MW Santa Clara and Desa's 145MW Morro dos Ventos wind complexes have been ready since July 2012 – but have not delivered a single MWh due to the lack of a grid link.

Both projects sold their future energy output in the first wind-only tender held by Brazil in 2009.

Serveng's 170MW União dos Ventos complex has negotiated a long-tem power-purchase agreement in the unregulated market and is currently under final construction.

In September 2010, Chesf won the first ICGs (transmission/connection point) tender, gaining the rights to build the transmission infrastructure to wind farms awarded in the 2009 auction.

According to the rules of the ICGs process, Chesf would have 18 months to construct the transmission lines and substations.

However, a source at Idema says that the state utility only first embarked on the relevant environmental licensing procedures 180 days after the ICGs auction, which partly explains the massive delay to the transmission projects.

As well as the João Câmara substation, Chesf still needs to race against the clock to finish off more ICGs in Bahia and RN.

Chesf says that the Lagoa Nova's ICG, which is also in RN, is due in late August this year, while Morro do Chapéu's ICG should come into operation in late January 2015.

“Both ICGs, with the exception of Lagoa Nova substation which is under construction, are at the moment under environmental licensing process”, says Chesf.

Renova Energia's 294MW Alto Sertão I complex, located in Bahia, also ready since July 2012, is another wind farm expected to be linked in the first quarter of this year.