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Norway’s Energy Major Equinor Starts Up Solar Plant in Brazil

Equinor has put into operation a 531-megawatt solar plant in Brazil, which boosts its power production in the South American country by 30%, the Norwegian major said on Friday.

The 531-MW Mendubim solar plant will produce 1.2 terawatts per hour (TWh) of power annually, of which some 60% will be sold on a 20-year US-dollar-denominated power purchase agreement (PPA) with Alunorte, one of the world’s leading suppliers of alumina for the aluminum industry. The remaining power production from Mendubim will be sold in the power market in Brazil, Equinor said.

The solar power project is being developed and operated as a joint venture between Scatec, Hydro Rein, and Equinor.

“Equinor has conducted business in Brazil for over two decades, and we see the country as a core area for long-term profitable growth,” said Olav Kolbeinstveit, senior vice president for onshore and markets within Renewables at Equinor.

The plant is expected to deliver real base project returns in the middle of Equinor’s guided range for renewables of 4-8%, it said.  

The Norwegian energy company is one of the international majors that have invested directly in solar and offshore wind power project development and generation, although the profitability of its renewables division is still significantly trailing the oil and gas profits.

In solar energy, Equinor has operations in Brazil, Poland, and northern Europe.

Last year, Equinor bought Brazilian onshore renewables company Rio Energy, including the 0.2 GW Serra da Babilonia 1 producing onshore wind farm and a pipeline of onshore wind and solar projects.

In offshore wind, the Norwegian firm is active in Norway, the UK, the U.S., and Poland, including a stake in the world’s largest offshore wind farm, the Dogger Bank Wind Farm in UK waters. 

In the United States, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has just said that Equinor’s Empire Wind 1 project is one of the conditional winners in its fourth offshore wind solicitation round.

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Equinor and NYSERDA will now negotiate an Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Certificate (OREC) Purchase and Sale Agreement, with contract execution expected in the second quarter of 2024.  

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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