Presentations - WindEurope Annual Event 2024

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Brazilian wind project inside Seridó UNESCO Global Geopark

João Vidal, Environmental Manager, Casa dos Ventos Energias Renováveis


Wind project environmental permitting is one of the main bottlenecks to achieving renewable energy global targets. Just a few onshore wind projects had a chance to be permitted inside UNESCO Global Geoparks. This article presents the Pedra Lavrada Wind Project which is one of the largest onshore wind projects in Latin America with an installed capacity of 1.5 GW, located within the boundaries of Seridó UNESCO Global Geopark. For 4 years, a broader and beyond-requirement environmental impact assessment was performed. Several public hearings with massive participation of multiple stakeholders were conducted which allowed free, prior and informed consultations with local communities and indigenous people in accordance with ILO 169. During those public consultations, the project had a chance to explore and collect data to develop specific programs to enhance local initiatives (e.g., tourism, education and culture) and mitigate threats to the community lifestyle, environment and landscape. The relationship between geologic sites and the wind project was assessed through 3D landscape visual impact analysis, which was the main concern of the project team. As a result, micrositing and BoP optimization were performed to respect a minimum of 700 meters radius of geological sites, twice the first distance expected. Those measures reduced 32% of the deforestation area as well as reducing 31% of impact over seasonal rivers, which is beneficial as the region suffers with drought. Project feasibility was sustained through BoP optimization, mostly coming from the shared infrastructure connection with nearby wind projects in the portfolio. In addition, several social and specific compensatory measures were developed and proposed, such as: cultural heritage and geologic preservation programs; geodiversity research; tourism; supportive local agricultural activities and meliponiculture. Finally, Pedra Lavrada is a breakthrough wind project in the industry due to its highly complex social, environmental and engineering conditions.

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