Location of Large-Scale Concentrating Solar Power Plants in Northeast Brazil


Heliothermic electricity generation is gaining popularity in several countries worldwide. In Brazil, this form of energy generation has not yet been explored for large scale projects. However, the country possesses extensive areas with normal and high-intensity direct irradiation and low seasonality factors, particularly in the semi-arid region of the Brazilian Northeast. The region also presents other important features for setting up such plants: proximity to transmission lines, sufficient flatness, non-endangered vegetation, a suitable land use profile low maximum wind speeds, low population density, and more recently, an increase in the demand for local electric energy due to economic growth above the Brazilian average. A Geographic Information System includes a set of specialised resources that allow us to manipulate spatial data, providing quickness and efficiency in the identification of appropriate places for installing solar power plants while also preparing us for future scenarios, with regards to their impacts, costs and benefits. This article presents a study of the optimal location for thermoelectric power plants in the semi-arid region of the Brazilian Northeast on the scale of 1:10,000,000. All provinces with good potential for the implementation of large-scale concentrating solar power plants are identified. Considering that the installed capacity for parabolic cylindrical concentrators in terrains with a steepness of less than 1% is 43.26 MW/km2 for systems without storage and 30.82 MW/km2 for systems with 6 hours of storage, the potential of the southeast region of Piauí alone is huge. Even with the lack of information about the urban areas, terrain continuity, and other variables,utilising only 10% of the identified potential area, or879.7 km2, would result in an installed capacity of 38.1-27.1 GW. This value corresponds to more than 1/3 of the potency of the current Brazilian electric system. If the same calculation is made for the semi-arid region of the Brazilian Northeast, its capacity will be greater than 1000 GW.

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V. Azevedo and C. Tiba, "Location of Large-Scale Concentrating Solar Power Plants in Northeast Brazil," Journal of Geographic Information System, Vol. 5 No. 5, 2013, pp. 452-470. doi: 10.4236/jgis.2013.55043.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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