Why isn’t Brazil exploiting its amazing wind capacity?

Source: The Guardian Unlimited

Renewables star Brazil is now backtracking towards fossil fuels. Why, when wind could provide vital jobs?

Brazil has made huge strides in divesting from fossil fuels. In 2009 the country produced a staggering 85% of its electricity from renewable resources. Nearby Argentina hit just 29.2%, while renewably generated electricity is a scant 19.5% of the world’s supply.

Those impressive figures have been harvested mainly through heavy investment in hydro power, with 75% of its total renewable energy coming from this resource. Meanwhile its potential for wind power has been left largely untouched. At present Brazil invests just $5.42bn (£3.4bn) in wind power despite having a total estimated potential of 300 gigawatts (GW). However, spending on hydropower projects, which have a smaller total energy potential of 260GW, has topped $150bn.

It seems that Brazil has no plans to change the direction of its renewables investments. Headed by the Ministry of Mines and Energy and state-run energy research company Empresa de Pesquisa Energética (EPE), Brazil’s 10-year plan for energy expansion states that installed capacity from hydro will increase from 84.8GW to 119GW by 2022, yet installed capacity for other renewables (small hydroelectric, biomass and wind) will rise from 15.3GW to 38.1GW in the same time period.

Meanwhile there is a new emphasis on fossil fuel, with plans to increase oil production to 5m barrels per day by 2023. Roberto Kishinami, the former executive director of Greenpeace Brazil and international board member for ActionAid, says that Brazil’s energy plans represent a backtrack on previous commitments to a clean energy future.

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