Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Vale building wind farms?

I'm honestly intrigued. The Brazilian mining giant is teaming up with Australia's Pacific Hydro to build two wind farms with 140 MW of capacity as part of a 500 MW in capacity that Hydro is building throughout all of Brazil.

Sited in the new wind capital of Brazil - Rio Grande do Norte - the projects require an estimated investment of $315 million, not a huge amount given the company's mammoth size.

"Vale's global demand for energy should increase by 150 percent by 2020 and we are looking for sustainable alternatives to supply this energy using renewable energy sources," said Vale executive Vania Somavilla.

The company is Brazil's biggest consumer of energy, so I think this is good news. My one nerdy observation to add here is that Vale and Pacific already have the environmental licensing and are slated to start up in 2014. This suggests to me that the consortium created by the two companies has gone out and bought up a project from someone who bid in one of the recent wind auctions. That means some wind project developer has done a bunch of a legwork for the big dogs to come in and run the show - it's the kind of thing that's likely to get more people into a budding market.

A wind farm is ideal for a company like Vale which gets most of its energy from hydro power, because the wind and hydro naturally complement each other better than any other combination of renewable energy. It's a relatively small amount of energy for the company, so I'm curious to see if they continue adding capacity.

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