Brazil’s oil giant Petrobras puts wind farms up for sale as renewables retreat begins

Brazilian state oil company Petrobras put part of its small portfolio of onshore wind assets up for sale in another signal that renewables are slipping back down its list of priorities.

The planned disposal of its 49% and 51% stakes in the Mangue Seco 1 and 2 wind farms, totaling about 26MW, will leave the fossil group with an even narrower green agenda focused on experimental offshore wind and biofuels.

The company is advancing a 5MW pilot offshore wind project that could be Brazil’s first, and is in theory still in a partnership with Equinor to look at wider activities in the sector.

However, its direction since the election of the far-right Jair Bol​sonaro administration has been to retrench around its core activities, a trend reflected in its investment plans.

In its latest $75.7bn strategic plan for 2020-24, Petrobras earmarks investment in R&D for renewables and decarbonisation of $70m a year with $100m annually for decarbonisation-related projects in areas such as carbon capture and energy efficiency – but not renewable power generation.

By contrast, a year earlier in the 2019-23 plan Petrobras had earmarked $417m for renewables, including the development of offshore and onshore wind, and solar PV. That was the same year that Petrobras signed MoU’s with Equinor and Total Eren to develop renewables in Brazil, as other oil majors as Shell and BP also started increasing investment in renewables there and in the wider Latin American region.

Since January 2019 Petrobras has divested from several non-core activities such as refining, retail fuel, and fuel and gas transport operations and some oilfields, making sales that added up to $15bn, according to the company’s reports.

As well as selling wind power assets, executives are reported saying the company will sell 15 of its 26 thermal power plants and will continue to divest from refineries and fuel transport.

The only major electricity generation investments that Petrobras would consider are in new gas plants, as the government has plans to boost the presence of the fossil fuel in Brazil’s power mix.

The 104MW Mangue Seco complex in Rio Grande do Norte accounts for almost all Petrobras’s onshore renewable assets. It also holds similar stakes in Mangue Seco 3 and 4, but has not yet said if it will sell those.

Ironically, Petrobras stressed the profitability of the wind farms as it put them up for sale

The two Mangue Seco projects started operations in 2011 after winning 20-year PPAs at government tenders and one of the highest prices for wind power in Brazil: R$259.18 per MWh. Today’s wind power prices are under R$100/MWh.

Source: rechargenews.com

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