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Brazil's wind power growth draws international investors

Dec. 9, 2011 at 6:18 AM   |   Comments

RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Brazil's burgeoning wind power industry is drawing international investors to northeastern regions of the country, the hub of most tangible growth in the sector.

Wind power use is taking off worldwide and a new impetus was given to this key renewable energy sector with the emergence of new do-it-yourself turbines for running household appliances.

In northeastern Brazil, industry planners said they expect industry standard wind power capacity to grow eight-fold by 2014. Current wind power capacity is estimated at 1,400 megawatts.

By 2025 that installed capacity will likely rise to 31.6 gigawatts, industry analysts said. Brazil is Latin America's largest wind energy market.

Lower production prices, government incentives and Brazil's soaring electricity demand have attracted a number of significant foreign players. France's Alstom opened a wind turbine manufacturing plant in Bahia, which has attracted investors because of its high wind speeds and low incidence of storms.

The rise of cheaper wind power has enabled the service providers to compete successfully for a share of Brazil's national supply of electricity.

Wobben Windpower, a subsidiary of German group Enercon GmBH, set up the first wind turbine factory in Brazil in the 1990s and the company expects to install 22 wind farms with a total capacity of 554 megawatt by the end of 2012.

Enercon GmBH, which has headquarters Aurich, Germany, is the market leader in Germany since the mid-1990s and the fourth-largest wind turbine manufacturer in the world.

The lucrative wind power market has drawn other players, including Spain's Gamesa, Argentina's Impsa, Germany's Siemens and Denmark's Vestas, the world biggest wind turbine manufacturer, GE Wind from the United States and India's Suzlon.

French engineering giant Alstom inaugurated a wind turbine manufacturing plant in Bahia's industrial complex of Camacari near Salvador, Bahia's state capital.

Alstom said it would try to match its 40 percent market share in the Brazilian hydropower plant sector, Brazil's main source of electricity generation.

Meanwhile, consumer interest in wind power is growing and manufacturers are responding with products that households can use.

Oklahoman firm Bergey Windpower said its best-selling BWC Excel 10 wind turbine is the first to receive full certification to a new AWEA Small Wind Turbine Performance and Safety Standard.

"This new standard is the most significant milestone in the history of the small wind industry because it provides, for the first time, third-party verification of real world performance and a highly technical review of a turbine's strength and safety," said Mike Bergey, president of Bergey Windpower and the 2011 president of the Distributed Wind Energy Association.

The Bergey Excel 10 is a 23-foot diameter horizontal-axis turbine designed to provide the annual energy requirements for homes, farms and small businesses. More than 2,000 Excel turbines have been installed in 46 states and more than 50 countries.

It has only three moving parts, requires no annual maintenance and was the first small wind turbine to carry a 10-year warranty.

Bergey Windpower introduced a new 5-kilowatt turbine in September and it is undergoing certification testing at the Alternative Energy Institute in Texas.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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