Brazil Reaches Wind Energy Milestone

wind turbines brazil photo
Photo: Stephen Messenger

Brazil has reached a renewable energy milestone, among the first of many as the nation pushes to meet its ambitious pledge to reduce carbon emissions. Beginning in June, Brazil now generates 1 gigawatt of electricity from wind turbines, sufficient to power around 1.5 million homes, and is the first in South America to do so. Currently, 51 wind farms are in operation throughout the Brazilian northeast and southern states and over thirty more are currently under construction thanks to a program of government incentives which is expected to add an additional $15 billion in clean energy investments -- though there still may be a long way to go before its full potential is met.According to the Brazilian Association of Ecological Energy ABEEólica, by 2013 the nation is on track to produce as much as 5.3 gigawatts of electricity through wind farm projects, and an eight-fold increase in capacity over the next five years -- the highest growth potential in South America, says Renewable Energy Focus.

But despite Brazil's improving clean energy infrastructure derived from wind, it is not without its shortcomings, particularly compared to gains being made in other developing countries. There remains huge swaths of land that have yet to be explored as potential sites for wind farms, largely because the cost to build them is too high compared to other energy sources. Currently, wind accounts for less than one percent of total energy produced in Brazil, though that number is bound to rise.

Government incentives have opened the door for hundreds more wind farms throughout Brazil. Planned auctions are hoping to lure private investments from domestic and international companies towards 429 wind energy projects, which could bring the total output to around 10.9 GW.

Today, approximately 90 percent of electricity is produced by hydroelectric facilities, though the land-clearing required to build them has lead to international protest, as is the case with the enormous Belo Monte dam project currently underway in the Amazon.

Brazil's push towards renewable energy is one of the world's most ambitious, bolstered by its pledge to reduce carbon emissions 39 percent by 2020.

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