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Lucio Bomfim (BI Energia): Good Winds for Energy

11:52 15 de November de 2022 Por Daniel Oiticica

Lucio Bomfim, partner at BI Energia

Founded in 2015 by Lucio Bomfim and two Italian partners, BI Energia is a pioneer in the development of offshore wind energy projects in Brazil. After years of consolidating activities in Italy, the company set out for new markets. And the country chosen was Brazil. The company bet on Ceará to implement the first Offshore Wind Complex in the country, in the municipality of Caucaia. At maximum production, the Caucaia wind farm will be able to supply the residential energy consumption needs of 30% of the State of Ceará. This, the company’s first project has received support from the State and should generate new businesses and jobs. In this interview, Lucio Bomfim, a partner at BI Energia, explains the plant’s project in detail and reveals what other businesses it will benefit from in Ceará.

Why was Ceará the location chosen for the installation of the BI Eergia Plant?
We studied the northeast winds and found that the coast of Ceará has the best conditions in the world to establish an offshore wind energy project. Conditions are much better than in Europe, for example. While here, the ability to take advantage of the wind reaches 65%, in Europe it is around 25% to 30%, in the North and Baltic Seas. Furthermore, here we do not have gusts that make it impossible to capture energy, while in Europe it is necessary to stop the turbines to avoid accidents. Of the 8,600 hours/year, we calculate that for only 200 hours won’t have enough wind to generate energy. Another advantage is that the Brazilian coast is comparatively shallow, between 10 and 20 meters in the first 50 meters of coastline, which reduces project implementation costs. Everything is favorable for offshore wind to generate enough energy. In comparison, hydroelectric capture has the same 60% generation capacity as offshore plants. We did a study and concluded that if we build seven plants like the one in Caucaia on the Northeast coast we would not need to use the water from the Sobradinho dam to generate energy, and it could be used for irrigation and human consumption.

How has the state of Ceará been contributing to the realization of the project?
The state has helped us a lot, unlocking all the bureaucracy. It is not possible to do everything because the licensing depends on the Federal Government. But if it only depended on Ceará, we would already have the contract for the assignment of the area.

What is the forecast for the beginning of the construction of the Caucaia plant?
If Ibama releases the preliminary license by January 2023, we will have two years to prepare the executive project, dimension the foundation and request the second license from Ibama for the installation, which requires more details. These are more in-depth studies that evaluate the environmental impacts and mitigating measures. In parallel, I must sign a contract with the government to use the sea area, paying for its use. This process was set out by the Ministry of Mines and Energy under public consultation, which ends on October 9th. From there we will know what the norms are for us to participate in the bidding. So, I believe that we will start building the plant in 2025, with operations starting in 2027.

The Caucaia plant will create new business opportunities for several companies. Which sectors will benefit?
To prepare the environmental impact studies, we have already hired the services of specialists here in Ceará, in other Northeastern states and even in Rio de Janeiro. We are studying oceanography, fisheries, biology, meteorology, we are even hiring specialists in seabird migration. In a second stage, we will have the development of the engineering project. Specialists in calculations for the foundation and for dimensioning transmission lines. For the foundations, we will need to hire the services of steel mills in Ceará that will build the parts. We will provide opportunities for university students for skilled labor to size the subsea transmission lines. And we want to hire companies from Ceará to manufacture the turbines right here in the state. They are larger and more complex than onshore equipment. Ceará is negotiating with the federal government to facilitate the process and form a hub to produce these turbines for projects across the country. We will also have to prepare the ground to support the turbines, so we will have to contract quarries. We will also need mid-level technicians to operate the plant. There are, therefore, several business opportunities for different segments.

Besides the Caucaia Complex, what are BI Energia’s other offshore energy projects?
We have three projects being evaluated by Ibama. Caucaia, which is the most advanced, and should generate 576 MW; the Camocim plant, also in Ceará, which will have a capacity of 1,200 MW; and another one in Rio Grande do Norte, the Pedra Grande plant, of 624 MW.