IBAMA opens public consultation on terms of reference for environmental licensing studies for offshore wind complexes

On January 9, 2020, the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) published a Public Consultation notice to discuss the draft Terms of Reference, to determine the general guidelines and technical criteria of the studies which will support the environmental licensing studies for offshore wind complexes.

Wind power is one of the most promising and fastest growing clean and renewable energy sources in the world, and studies indicate Brazil, which has been voted the eighth largest wind power generator in the world, as having a potential for offshore wind power generation of over 11,000 GW1. In addition to being a clean and renewable source, offshore wind construction has significant synergies with the offshore oil and gas sector.

The scope of IBAMA’s Terms of Reference is to guide the elaboration of Environmental Impact Assessments for Offshore Wind Complexes, and includes: the wind power generating units; the underwater connector network; the power transmission network, including its subsea and underground sections, as well as the air segment to the connection with the National Interconnected System; the ground substation and the support areas exclusive to the building.

According to the proposed Terms of Reference, the studies should contain:

i. an introduction addressing the context of elaboration and conclusions;

ii. identification reporting information about the project bidder and the responsible technical team;

iii. description of the project/activity and its alternatives indicating the description of the main motivations and justifications for the project development;

iv. technological and locational alternatives, identifying and qualifying such alternatives studied for the implementation of the project, considering the technical, economic and environmental aspects;

v. area of study, which aims to geospatially delimit data production, both for subsidies to the pre-existing assessment of the project and for the technical groundings of the project;

vi. assessment depicting the current environmental quality of the study area, indicating the features of the various factors that make up the environmental system, reporting the features of the physical/biotic and socioeconomic environment;

vii. public bodies/entities involved;

viii. analysis of environmental impacts;

ix. area of environmental influence;

x. environmental risk analysis;

xi. environmental management plan;

xii. conclusion and, finally;

xiii. references, glossary and environmental technical report.

Among the many initiatives in force and the high energy potential of Brazil in offshore wind generation, it is true that the sector so far lacks solid, clear and sufficiently transparent regulation to allow domestic and foreign market players to address the attractive sector.

In this context, the opening of the public consultation by IBAMA and the subsequent publication of the Terms of Reference marks an important step towards seeking a solution to this problem and to create a safe and reliable regulatory framework capable of attracting investments to Brazil, enabling the promotion of the offshore wind generation market.

The Draft of the Terms of Reference is available on the website.

Contributions may be submitted until April 9, 2020, via the online form.

Demarest’s Environmental and Energy and Natural Resources Teams advise several clients on issues involving the environmental licensing processes of energy projects and are available for specific legal advice.

1Global Wind Energy Council (2017) e EPE (2019).