The Spanish multinational Iberdrola has inaugurated this Wednesday its largest renewable energy plant in Brazil and Latin America.
The so-called Paraíba Neoenergía Renewable complex is located in Santa Luzia, a city some 300 kilometers inland in the State of Paraíba, one of those that overlooks the Atlantic in northeastern Brazil.
With 136 wind turbines and 228,000 solar panels spread over a park of more than 8,000 hectares, it has an installed capacity of 600 megawatts (MW) and has been in operation for a year.
The Brazilian president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has traveled to the plant to preside over a ceremony in which he did not speak.
Beside him, the Chairman of Iberdrola, Ignacio Sánchez Galán, stressed that the company maintains its commitment to Brazil, where it has been established for 25 years, that this is a new step "towards a system less dependent on fossil fuels" and his close relationship with the president, who is about to complete three months in power.
Beyond its size, the main innovation of the Neoenergia complex (Iberdrola's subsidiary in Brazil) is, according to the company, that by combining solar and wind power generation facilities, it optimizes facilities and reduces costs.
Something that in Brazil is new.
Galán explained that “it is the first hybrid park in Brazil.
It uses a 370-kilometre transmission line that we have built (linked) with a photovoltaic park and a wind farm, so that it generates electricity practically 24 hours a day”.
During the day, thanks to the sun;
night with the wind
The investment in the complex is around 3,500 million reais (620 million euros, 670 million dollars).
Neoenergia, with 40 million customers in Brazil, is one of the main electricity companies in the largest Latin American economy.
Lula has not given any speech, to the chagrin of many of the Neoenergia employees present at the event who have chanted his name.
The president is at the gates of an intense trip to China and has wanted to preserve his voice, in addition to giving prominence to the governor of Paraíba, João Azevedo, according to the spokesman for the Presidency of the Republic.
Silverio Olegario, a 50-year-old farmer, perfectly remembers that day in 2012 when workers appeared in his village —which today is in the park from which clean energy comes out— talking about the potential of those lands to generate electricity with the wind.
He listened carefully because, since the 1985 plague that forever devastated the cotton crops that fed his family for generations, life was very complicated, according to what he told a group of journalists invited by Neoenergia on Tuesday.
Nobody wanted the land, not even at bargain prices.
And out of nowhere someone appeared wanting to rent it.
He now receives, together with his mother and his brothers, the rent for the land they inherited.
"The rental income is not much, because we are 23 siblings," says Olegario, who is the father of two children.
Before signing a 35-year lease, he went with other expedition neighbors to the neighboring state of Rio Grande do Norte to see a mill plant for himself.
Until then he only knew them on TV.
He now lives and runs a restaurant surrounded, at a good distance, by windmills with blades 64 meters wide.
He opened the business to feed the thousands of workers who built the park.
He says that in the pandemic, since everything is outdoors, the restaurant received up to 400 Sunday-goers on weekends.
Now the business is less buoyant, but he dreams of the place becoming a tourist destination.
Natural attractions, he emphasizes, are not lacking.
Although these lands were coveted by three renewable companies thanks to the constant wind and frequent sun, those of his family came from his great-grandfather but were never registered in any registry.
So, in order to be able to rent it, Neoenergia helped him regularize it.
“She was georeferenced and now she is registered”, she says.
The same happened with another 140 residents who live inside this park that supplies clean energy to the Brazilian national system.
Sánchez Galán, Chairman of Iberdrola, explained for his part that the company's rate of investment in Brazil is around 2,000 million euros per year.
And that his intention is to dedicate another 6,000 or 7,000 million until 2025. He has also detailed that the company will participate in two new transmission line auctions that the Lula Executive is preparing for June and October.
The chief executive of the Spanish electricity company sees the prospects for the largest Latin American economy as positive in this third term of the leader of the left in Brazil, who presides over a wide-ranging government and was president between 2003 and 2010. Inflation control — around 5%— is, in the opinion of the Spanish executive, one of its strong points in Brazil "when half the world is facing inflation problems."
The second positive aspect that he sees in Brazil "is that the government of President Lula, as in its first stage, will do everything to preserve macroeconomic stability."
Galán met on Tuesday in Brasilia with Finance Minister Fernando Haddad, who is preparing a new spending control system and a tax reform.
The minister explained to him, he says, that he "does not intend to collect more, but to collect better."
"I think it encourages us to have that stability that the country needs at all levels," stressed the Spanish executive.
Neoenergia's operations in Brazil cover all phases of the business: generation, transmission, distribution and marketing.
It is a business highly focused on renewables, since the sum of the five gigawatts of power installed in hydroelectric, wind and solar plants accounts for 90% of its operations.
Last year it achieved profits of 4.7 billion reais (almost 830 million euros, 890 million dollars).
The ceremony was also attended by several ministers and the governor of Paraíba, Lula's wife, Janja da Silva, thanks to which the president included feminism in his speech.
Winks at women and promises to promote them have been constant in his speeches.
Galán highlighted his pride in the 500 electricians who already work in his Brazilian subsidiary and the 200 that the company is training.
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