RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Oil-rich Brazil will likely have more wind power capacity than all its Latin American neighbors within less than 10 years, analysts say.
Brazil already imports electricity from a dam operated jointly with landlocked neighbor Paraguay and has set out plans for alternative conventional renewable energy sources. A series of major offshore oil discoveries have set Brazil on course for rising production of oil and gas in the coming decades, but the government wants to set aside oil for export and renewables for meeting domestic energy demand.
The wind power project flies in the face of trends in the renewable energy community where wind power has been condemned for its noise pollution, devastating effects on bird life and other negative side-effects.
Sentiment against wind power has built up worldwide because of those reasons plus perceived disadvantages of high set up costs of financially viable wind warms.
Brazilians aren't too bothered about those considerations, however.
Latin America has become one of the hottest growth markets for the wind energy industry, Colorado firm Navigant Research said in a report.
Wind power development in Brazil, in particular, is growing rapidly and will provide the bulk of Latin America's wind market in the coming years, the company said.
By 2016, Brazil could see yearly installations top 1.5 gigawatts as the pipeline of contracted projects comes online and transmission is constructed to connect the plants. A Navigant Research report said cumulative installed wind power capacity in Brazil by 2022 will reach 20.1 gigawatts, more than all the other nations of Latin American combined.
"Eight auction rounds since 2009 have awarded more than 8.5 gigawatt of wind power contracts in Brazil, which secures a robust development cycle for at least the next 5 years," Navigant Research director Feng Zhao said.
Zhao cited assertions by senior Brazilian energy officials that the country can reach 10 gigawatt of wind power installations by 2017 -- eight years ahead of the original plan.
The next-largest market for wind power in Latin America will be Mexico, which is expected to have nearly 9 gigawatt of installed capacity by 2022, Navigant Research said.
Wind capacity in early 2013 represented only 2.5 percent of Brazil's power generation total. Experts consider that ratio low for a country with a renewable energy target that calls for 35 percent of the country's electricity to come from renewables by 2024.
The report, "Latin America Wind Market Assessment," looked at energy market prospects in 15 wind power markets in Latin America.
A country-by-country analysis outlines the key energy policies and development opportunities and barriers, identifies which companies own operational wind plants, and examines the competitive landscape for wind turbine vendors supplied those projects.
Market forecasts for wind power installations, capacity, and market share in Latin America, segmented by country and company, extend through 2022.
The report also offered a close analysis of Brazil and Mexico, the region's largest wind markets, and looked at the emerging wind supply chain and subcomponent manufacturers.