General Electric Co. agreed to supply 156 wind turbines to the Brazilian renewable-energy developer Casa dos Ventos Energias Renovaveis SA., its largest deal to date in Latin America’s burgeoning renewable energy market.
Casa dos Ventos, the region’s biggest developer, will use the equipment for a 360-megawatt wind farm in Brazil’s northeastern states of Piaui and Pernambuco, said Jean-Claude Robert, GE’s general manager for renewable energy in Latin America. The order is worth as much as 1.5 billion reais ($427 million), according to estimates from Thymos Energia.
“Brazil is a huge country and if you want to be the number one in Latin America, you need to be big in Brazil,” Robert said in a telephone interview from Sao Paulo.
Brazil is Latin America’s biggest wind market with about 6 gigawatts of installed capacity, according to the trade group known as Abeeolica. The wind industry will attract as much as $84 billion in investment through 2040, according to New Energy Finance. Installations will grow to more than 22 gigawatts in the next decade.
Casa dos Ventos was awarded power-purchase agreements to build the Ventos do Araripe III wind complex in three energy auctions in 2013 and 2014. The project is scheduled to begin commercial operation in April 2017.
“The project is located in an area with a lot of wind potential,” said Virna Araripe, director of business development at Casa dos Ventos. The company expects to retain this project after it’s completed. In the past it has typically sold the wind farms it develops.
Casa dos Ventos has 1.1 gigawatts of wind farms under construction or in operation, and has sold 3.5 gigawatts of projects to other companies.
The Sao Paulo-based developer is seeking financing for the GE turbines from Brazil’s development bank BNDES. As much as 80 percent of the project may be financed with the agency’s loans and tax-exempt bonds.
The project will use 74 of GE’s 2.3-107 turbines and 82 of its 2.3-116 model. Using two types of turbines will make energy production more efficient, Robert said. The agreement also includes a 10-year contract for operations and maintenance.
Wind power was GE’s fastest growing business in Brazil last year, selling about 500 megawatts of turbines. The company expects about 40 percent growth this year, surpassing 700 megawatts.
GE’s turbine factory in Brazil is reaching maximum capacity with the orders, though the company doesn’t see the need to increase capacity yet, Robert said. The company also agreed in March to build two new wind-turbine service centers in northeast Brazil to support Casa dos Ventos projects and other potential customers in the region.