'Brazil's wind industry is bringing new opportunities', By Alexandre Spatuzza, Recharge News, February 16 2016
Half of the wind turbines spinning in Brazil contain Thyssenkrupp components
5 MINUTES with Sérgio Guerreiro of Thyssenkrupp
Brazil's wind industry is booming, spurred by annual auctions and the three-year local-content programme, which concluded in January.
The programme has attracted an estimated R$1bn ($257m) of investment from six turbine OEMs and their respective supply chains, including foreign companies that have recenly opened facilities or expanded existing production lines.
One of them is Germany's Thyssenkrupp, a traditional supplier of equipment in Brazil that recently expanded its production line for bearings to reach a capacity of 1GW a year for the wind sector.
Recharge spoke to Sérgio Guerreiro, head of the company's bearings division in Brazil.
What is the importance of the wind sector for Thyssenkrupp today, compared with a few years ago?
The wind-energy industry is bringing new opportunities to the companies operating in Brazil. The country already has 289 wind farms, mostly in the Northeast region, and half of the installed [turbines] have components produced by Thyssenkrupp. The company supplies bearings for blades, towers and turbine rotors... Thyssenkrupp also pioneered the early technical contributions to the country’s wind energy, supplying components for the first tower installed in Brazil. It's important to reinforce that Brazil has a favourable outlook that is supported by more than 700 projects currently in operation, construction or planning phases.
What investments did you make to meet the sector's needs?
In order to meet the growing demand of the Brazilian wind market, Thyssenkrupp has completed the expansion of its production capacity for new large-size special bearing produced in Diadema, in the state of São Paulo... The company invested R$35m in this new facility, which is part of the R$2bn investment planned for the country over the next five years according to the market development and economic conditions.
How long will it take for a return on this investment?
The return comes gradually, according to the energy-sector development in the country. In the case of the bearings unit of Thyssenkrupp, the plant capacity is already well used....
What are the main challenges in serving the wind sector?
The main challenge is to continue the development and investments in the national industry. In addition, it's important to ensure that Brazil has a diversified energy mix, able to support the growth of the wind sector.
Thyssenkrupp is a leading provider in large-size bearings and operates in this segment in Brazil since 1978. The regional co-operation and integration with other Thyssenkrupp local units is also a key growth driver to us. Besides that, the company is constantly investing in research and innovation to meet market demand. Today Thyssenkrupp operates the world’s biggest R&D centre for slewing bearings in Lippstadt [western Germany], using state-of-the-art technology to test and optimise forward-looking bearing designs under the toughest conditions.
Who are your customers?
Globally, Thyssenkrupp supplies almost all major wind turbine manufacturers with bearing products.
What are the main risks for the wind industry?
The company believes that all risks can be minimised with appropriate long-term planning for the sector, which means that the regulatory framework to stimulate the use of renewable-energy sources in Brazil should be continuously promoted. The development of this market requires a stable and sustainable regulatory environment.
Brazil is one of the group's priorities and we have a strong commitment to the country since 1837. We are aware of Brazil and its economy, so it will continue to focus on this market. The company employs... more than 12,000 employees in the steel, automotive, energy, infrastructure, mining, cement, construction, chemical, petrochemical and defence segments in all of the country’s regions.