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Beer giant Heineken turns on self-supply wind farm in Brazil

Siemens Gamesa-run 30MW facility will supply 30% of brewer's operations in the country

The Brazilian unit of Dutch beer giant Heineken has started operations at a 30MW wind farm it developed as part of a drive to reach 100% renewable power supply for its operations in the country by 2023.

The wind farm in northeastern Brazil was first planned in 2013 by local brewer Brasil Kirin before it was acquired by Heineken in 2017. It uses 2MW turbines from Siemens Gamesa, which will also operate and maintain the facility.

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Heineken said it invested a total of R$200m ($46m) in the project which will now supply about 30% of the power needs of the company’s 12 industrial facilities in the country. Now the company plans to expand existing biomass power generation in coming years to reach a 100% clean energy supply by 2023.

Heineken joins car marker Honda Motors as the second large Brazilian industrial to have invested in wind power for self supply. Investments in renewables by corporations is rising in the country, especially in rooftop or ground-mounted solar PV for self-supply in mid-size to large companies, which is growing exponentially. A total of 780MW of PV through small arrays up to 5MW is now in operation around the country, up from 115MW in mid-2017.

In contrast to other countries in the region such as Mexico, Argentina and Chile, where legally-binding targets are attracting investment in renewable power generation by companies, in Brazil the move towards renewables is being driven by runaway power prices in the regulated market.

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Wind is now an option for large industries, either by investing in wind farms or buying power from generators and utilities. According to the Brazilian Wind Power Association (ABEEólica), in the past year over 3GW of wind projects have been planned to offer power to companies and industries through non-regulated market PPAs. Traditionally, large industries invested in large hydroelectric dams to avoid high prices in the regulated market.

By comparison, most of the country’s 15GW wind operating capacity is supplying electricity to the regulated market through the national grid.

Brazil’s largest mining conglomerate Vale, for example, opted for a model in which a 151MW wind project will be built and operated from 2020 by Casa Dos Ventos, a leading renewable energy developer in Brazil.

Other examples include local petrochemical company Braskem which will buy power from a 33MW wind farm that will be built and operated by France’s EDF Renewables, and a mobile phone operator which will buy power from a wind power plant that will be constructed by Engie.

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