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Stories by Hydro

Growing 80 wind turbines and 20,000 trees

On an endless plateau in northeastern Brazil, tall towers rise into the sky while hundreds of workers and large construction machines persistently perform their heavy tasks. The Ventos de São Zacarias wind farm complex will, when completed, produce enough electricity to supply 1.2 million households.

The complex of projects is being developed by Hydro Rein, together with Macquarie Asset Management. Together, the partners have invested approximately USD 700 million to realize the projects.

Hydro’s bauxite mine Paragominas and the aluminum refinery Alunorte have already signed power purchase agreements (PPAs) to buy 77 percent of the power production from the wind farms when put into operation.

Extra large

The dimensions are huge. Approximately 1,500 people are working on the sites from the beginning of 2024. A total of 80 wind turbines will be erected and connected together in a network of almost 150 kilometers of medium voltage cables, which are attached to nearly 2,000 poles.

Each turbine tower consists of 25 concrete building blocks and, when fully assembled, will be 120 meters tall. Putting together this giant jigsaw puzzle is a logistical challenge. The projects team, who are at the center of the operations, are coordinating the daily movements of hundreds of trucks loaded with blades, electrical cables, and tower parts. They are making sure that all activities, including groundwork, foundation construction, and electrical connection, are performed in a smooth sequence.

The renewable electricity will be delivered to Brazil’s national electricity grid through 50 kilometers of high voltage cables.

a group of people wearing hardhats and reflector vests
Chairman of the board for Hydro Rein, Arvid Moss, inspecting the inside of a wind turbine tower with Construction Director, Felipe Castro

Sustainability first

The project complex spans over four municipalities in the states of Piauí and Pernambuco. From the beginning of the planning phase, the owners have worked to make the projects as sustainable as possible.

Although the area is sparsely populated, there are several neighbors who are affected, most of them small scale farmers. Sponsored by Ventos de São Zacarias Complex, an agricultural program has been launched to support the farmers as part of the Livelihood Restoration Plan, prepared in alignment with the International Finance Corporation Performance Standards.

Workshops are also organized for local farmers, so they can learn from each other's methods. The workshops focus on initiatives that could support farmers in increasing their productivity.

Support to local communities

Many families who identify as part of the Quilombola, a traditional community, also live in the area. Ventos de São Zacarias has financed and built a new community center for the Quilombolas and will implement an innovative water supply project in the community.

A group of street sellers that had to be moved to accommodate the transport of large items to the wind projects, have been relocated in two brand new buildings nearby. The shop owners, who sell everything from food and drinks to clothes and art, have been able to continue their business in a modern structure, undisturbed by the massive logistical operation nearby.

a group of people posing for a photo in a kitchen
New shop: Jucilene, Gabi and Evaneide sell groceries and other goods in the brand-new street market that was established and financed by Ventos de São Zacarias.

 

No Net Loss of biodiversity

Hydro Rein and Macquarie have committed to following the highest international standard for environmental and social sustainability, developed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The standard is significantly stricter than the local laws and regulations in Brazil and includes that the developers must commit to No Net Loss of biodiversity for impacts to natural habitat.

To support this commitment, the project has established a nursery to produce seedlings of native plants species. In total, the project will produce more than 20,000 trees, which will then be planted in the area.

a close up of a leaf
As part of the wind power project a seedling nursery is growing more than 20,000 plants and trees.

 

Solar power underway

The wind farms are scheduled to be completed in the second half of 2024. During the year, the owners will also decide about expanding the power plants with a large scale solar farm complex.

Plans are there already. If realized, the solar power projects will be developed with a capacity of 136 megawatts. The areas in the northeast of Brazil have very high solar radiation all year round, and the conditions are favorable for solar power.

The mechanic of hybrid power plants with both wind and solar will be able to optimize the production of the infrastructure that has been built. While the strongest winds blow at night, sunshine is naturally stronger during daytime.

Learn more about renewable energy company Hydro Rein here
a group of people wearing safety vests
The team from Hydro Rein together with the team from Macquarie Asset Management, co-owners of the Ventos de São Zacarias wind projects.

 

 

 

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