Brazil Installs Largest Offshore Wind Resource Measurement Network in Equatorial Margin Region

Brazil’s SENAI Institute for Innovation in Renewable Energies (ISI-ER) installed a LiDAR in the Paracuru municipality in the state of Ceará on 3 April, the last piece of equipment of what is said to be the largest offshore wind resource monitoring network in Brazil.

The installation of LiDAR in the municipality of Paracuru in Ceará; Photo; André Lira / ISI-ER

Through an agreement with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI), the study into Brazil’s offshore wind potential includes six measurement points from the state of Rio Grande do Norte to the state Amapá, covering 38.6 per cent of the country’s coastline, in an area known as the Brazilian Equatorial Margin.

The resource mapping project is the largest focusing on offshore wind energy in Brazil. According to the ISI-ER Research & Development (R&D) coordinator, Antonio Medeiros, the objective is to gather data that will be compared with simulations that are also under development. The final data will then be validated before the Institute presents the results, which it expects to take place in November 2025 at the 30th UN Conference on Climate Change (COP30).

“We will need at least a year, that is, a complete climate cycle, to validate our modeling, but the idea is that the equipment we installed will also be used after this period, as permanent measuring stations,” Antonio Medeiros said. 

Project measurements began in 2022 in Rio Grande do Norte, one of the Brazilian states that could see the largest offshore wind investments, with 14 projects awaiting licencing at the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), according to SENAI.

The region the state is located in has a very strong potential for offshore wind and low-carbon hydrogen, but other areas that are now part of the resource mapping activities lack information and are now undergoing unprecedented studies, according to Medeiros.

“From the state of Maranhão to Amapá, there are no observational data and few studies have been done to map meteoceanographic and anemometric variables. There is a great scarcity of data, so when it comes to studying these areas with an eye on energy use, when environmental mapping and mapping of meteorological characteristics are done, you have clarity and definition of the scenario, with measured data, with concrete data”, Medeiros explained.

Rodrigo Mello, director of SENAI in Rio Grande do Norte (SENAI RN) and ISI-ER, says that the planned investments in the Brazilian offshore wind industry total billions.

“And it’s time for us to have more reliable data, so that the decision-making of this investment takes place in the best areas,” Rodrigo Mello said.

According to Mello, this is one of the advantages that wind resource mapping in the Brazilian Equatorial Margin brings to the sector.

“The results of these measurements will provide primary data for the validation of simulations, reducing the uncertainty of the energy potential of the Equatorial Margin. This will make these investments optimized. Having this data is a matter of strengthening the business attraction environment for this new industrial activity that will be very important for Brazil,” Mello said.

The projects that are being processed for licencing at IBAMA are based on secondary data and modelling, and this study will make a significant contribution to the development of these projects and the offshore wind industry in Brazil, according to Rodrigo Mello.

SENAI says that the idea of mapping the Brazilian Equatorial Margin arose in 2020, after 13 of the 16 municipalities in the state of Amapá suffered a 22-day blackout, in what was considered the largest blackout in the country’s history.

As a result of articulations by the senators of the Republic Davi Alcolumbre (Amapá), Marcio Bittar (Acre), and the then-senator of Rio Grande do Norte, and currently president of Petrobras, Jean Paul Prates, an agreement for the development of the initiative was signed between the MCTI and the ISI-ER, responsible for the execution of the work.

Besides studying the country’s offshore wind resource, ISI-ER has also ventured into testing offshore wind technologies off the country’s coasts.

Last year, ISI-ER and SENAI RN submitted an application for a 22 MW pilot offshore wind project in Rio Grande do Norte, which the Institute now expects to be approved in the second half of this year.

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