The head of Brazil’s energy research agency says the government’s next auction for power and for hydro project concessions is expected to include the 3,580-MW Santo Antonio hydroelectric project on the Madeira River.
In an interview with Business News Americas, Mauricio Tolmasquim, head of Empresa de Pesquisa Energetica (EPE), said the May auction is likely to include a build-operate concession for Santo Antonio. The deadline to register projects for the auction is February 1.
Tolmasquim said Santo Antonio’s sister project on the Madeira, 3,900-MW Jirau, likely will be offered for concession separately at the end of 2007. (HNN 11/22/06)
Government-owned utility Furnas Centrais Eletricas and engineering company Odebrecht carried out environmental impact statements on the projects and have been seeking partners to bid for the concessions with them. The projects are to require total investments of 20 billion reais (US$9.36 billion).
Environmental agency Instituto Brasileiro de Meio Ambiente (Ibama) is expected to approve the projects’ environmental impact statements by the end of March, clearing the way for their inclusion in concession auctions. Water resources regulator ANA already has approved them, saying the run-of-river projects will not affect downstream water supply.
�Old� concessions, small hydro to go on block
Tolmasquim said the May auction is likely to include a substantial number of small hydro projects as well as offers to sell power from hydro projects with existing concessions that will have their last chance to sell power under the government auction program.
Old concession projects are likely to include 1,087-MW Estreito, which received environmental approval in December for construction on the Tocantins River; 855-MW Foz do Chapeco, whose license was renewed for construction on the Uruguai River (HNN 12/15/06); and 210-MW Serra do Facao, to be built by Furnas and other partners on the Sao Marcos River. (HNN 1/8/07)
New projects to be auctioned could include 50-MW Cambuci and 80-MW Barra do Pomba, on Paraiba do Sul River, which were withheld from last October’s auction for environmental clearance or other problems. (HNN 10/12/06)
Tolmasquim said small hydro projects, up to 30 MW, are expected to receive special conditions in the May auction. He said Brazil has a backlog of small projects that need power sale contracts from the auction to ease access to financing.
The EPE head said the government was considering a special price cap for the small projects, which have been unable to compete with larger projects. Projects that offer the lowest power prices win auction contracts. Tolmasquim said small projects have been unable to compete because they lack economies of scale of the larger projects.