Brazil could have offshore platforms linked to wind farms producing green hydrogen for export by the end of the decade, according to a global energy developer working with officials in the South American nation.
Enterprize Energy told Recharge its early progress on moves to build large-scale wind off Vietnam, which now includes plans to deploy offshore turbine-powered ‘green fuels’ processing platforms that can directly load hydrogen and ammonia onto vessels for export, opened doors off the South American nation.
The developer earlier in August signed a memorandum of understanding with the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Norte to look at opportunities off its coasts, where Enterprize has identified potential for multiple 2GW fixed-foundation projects that could be linked to green fuels production.
“We were approached [by the state] on the basis of what we were doing in Vietnam. People recognised we’d gone in as first mover into an imperfect market setting and then made significant progress,” said Enterprize Energy chairman Ian Hatton, referring to the 3.4GW Thang Long project that is the largest and most advanced off the coast of the Southeast Asian nation.
Hatton claimed Enterprize can replicate off Brazil plans being evolved under a partnership with engineering consultancy Tractebel Overdick for a sea-based platform concept that produces hydrogen and ammonia near turbines without the need to transmit power to land.
“The whole business model that sits behind it is about much more than a wire onto the grid,” added Hatton, who said large-scale offshore wind could find a lucrative market for green hydrogen electrolysis in markets where the case for direct supply to national power networks is weaker.
Brazil's plentiful and cheap onshore renewables, plus flatlining power demand, currently makes it tough for offshore wind to compete in power markets, and there is currently no specific regulatory base for development. However, Recharge reported this week how researchers atAegir Insights expect offshore wind to rapidly gain traction by the end of the decade, with bottom-fixed projects producing at a levelised cost of energy (LCOE) as low as €54/MWh ($63/MWh).
Brazil has also stated its ambitions to be a major exporter of green hydrogen produced via renewable-powered electrolysis, with several projects already mooted (see panel).
Megan Arnold, the Enterprize Energy executive liaising with Rio Grande do Norte, said the developer expects to submit an environmental application for its first projects “relatively soon”.
“We’d like to see something in place before the end of the decade,” she added.
Hatton said it was possible that Enterprize may seek to inject early hydrogen production into the existing Brazilian gas network to provide an initial market, with talks expected with the local gas utility there.
The Enterprize Energy plan is the latest in a clutch of major green hydrogen projects announced in Brazil as international companies jostle for a share of the action at at least three large-scale exporting hubs planned along its coast – some linked to proposed offshore wind projects.
The projects aim to tap into Brazil’s high capacity factors that enable cheap renewable power from a 500GW-plus onshore and shallow offshore wind potential alone, not to mention its huge solar PV and biomass resources.
“There are several pathways for producing green hydrogen in Brazil because of our diversity of renewable sources. Brazil is well positioned, but [the success] will depend on the business model and the offtakers,” Recharge was told by Giovani Machado, director at the government’s energy research authority (EPE), who authored a far-reaching report on renewable H2 policy published in February.
Brazil has yet to define policies for green hydrogen, which according to Machado makes the mid-decade start of operations targeted by several of the projects a tight schedule.
“There is no silver bullet for Brazil to enter the green hydrogen economy,” he admitted.
In early August Brazil’s National Energy policy Council started appraising plans for new green H2 regulations, government tax incentives, exports; and sourcing of international agreements and financing.
At least three deep-sea ports in Brazil have announced green hydrogen hubs that hope to start operations by 2025.
The most advanced is located in the state of Ceará, in the port of Pecém, where three foreign firms have signed on to the project and another five are in talks, head of industrial affairs for Ceará state’s development secretary Roseana Medeiros told Recharge.
“The projects are in the feasibility study stage, but there is a 75% chance of them being built,” she claimed, with plans including potential export of green ammonia to Germany and France.
“There will be enough demand for everybody… Ceará will not compete with other ports, Brazil will compete with North Africa and the Middle East as H2 export hubs,” she added.
In the coming weeks, Ceará's state government should contract consultants to determine tax incentives and regulations, while the Pecém port authority – a public-private partnership with the Dutch port of Rotterdam – is already negotiating real estate permits with project proponents.
Industrial gas producer White-Martins and Australian mining firm Fortescue Future Industries and start-up Enegix Energy also pledged investments in the hub.
Enegix Energy says it will tap onshore solar and wind producers to supply a 615,000 tonnes a year green hydrogen plant in Pecém. According to company’s CEO, Wesley Cooke, a total of 4GW of wind and solar capacity will be needed for the production.