“Paradise is here”, said the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci when he found the Fernan­do de Noronha archipelago of 21 islands and islets off the coast of Brazil in the early 16th century. Approximately 360km from the mainland, today the nature reserve faces two dilemmas; the need for permanent preservation of its native flora and fauna and the continued use of fossil fuels for electric power generation. As a solution to these two problems, the sun presents itself as an attractive energy source from both an economic and environmental point-of-view.

With operations scheduled to start in 2014, WEG has supplied a complete solar photovoltaic plant for the Energy Company, Pernambuco State (Celpe), part of the Neoenergia group. The plant is installed at the Air Force Command and will supply 4.6% of the total energy consumption of the island, which represents a saving of almost 10% of the annual consumption of diesel. The sun’s energy is converted into electricity by means of a solar photovoltaic plant of 400 kWp connected to a power line.

The plant is part of the Celpe Energy Efficiency Program regulated by the National Electric Energy Agency (Aneel), which is conducted in partnership with the Air Force Command. The distance from the mainland hinders the use of energy through the network distribution centre, making the sun an attractive energy source in comparison to fossil fuels. The isolated generation system that runs on diesel results in high logistical costs and an impact on the environment. Wind power generation has been tested on the island, but the lack of port structure hinders the installation of large wind power plants.

“Some hotels on the island already use solar energy to heat water, however this is a pioneer project for electricity generation,” said the spokeswoman for Neoenergia Energy Efficiency Group, Ana Christina Mascarenhas. The generation of distributed power near the place of consumption or at the consuming installation is still new in Brazil, but has been motivated by the Aneel Resolution No. 482 of 2012, which establishes the energy compensation system. “The installation of a photovoltaic solar power plant, in addition to the benefits to the environment, promotes training in this new technology and helps expand the installation of this system of power generation” said Mascarenhas.

An additional project to install a second plant that will generate 500 kWp is currently awaiting authorisation from the relevant environmental agencies. As a further element to the project, wider strategies are being defined for the use of renewable energy on the island.

WEG can supply complete turn-key solar power plants, providing all equipment, system engineering, installation and commissioning. WEG’s products include all electrical equipment such as electrical rooms, inverters, transformers, protection switchgear and monitoring systems.