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Renewables may end Venezuela power nightmare of 600,000 Brazilians

Wind and solar bid to free northernmost state from blackouts caused by crisis-ridden neighbour

As electricity outages plunge Venezuela into darkness, wind and solar farms are lining up to rescue Brazil’s northernmost state from its own blackout emergency caused by a reliance on power from its crisis-ridden neighbour.

Roraima is one of the few states in Brazil not connected to the country’s 140,000km transmission network, and a 2001 agreement guaranteed about 60% of its electricity would be imported from Venezuela.

But Venezuela’s descent into economic and political chaos has meant increasingly severe power outages in Roraima, and the Brazilian government will in May hold a tender for new projects to relieve the state’s 600,000 inhabitants.

Officials have shortlisted 1.3GW-worth of renewable projects – including wind, PV and storage – for the tender, which has a total registration of 6GW, equivalent to about 20 times Roraima’s current capacity.

The government has also escalated to the status of national emergency project a long-delayed plan to build a transmission line linking the state, partly located in the Amazon rainforest, to the rest of the grid.

That means the transmission line could end up being built by army engineers and normal environmental permitting processes circumvented.

Venezuela itself was yesterday hit by a massive power outage that deepened the sense of crisis around the government of Nicolas Maduro, who claimed the country was subject to an “electric energy war” waged by the US.

The Venezuelan authorities are blaming sabotage at the nation’s largest hydroelectric plant for the blackout.

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