Brazil's Fernando de Noronha archipelago needs new energy solutions

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, January 12, 2023
Brazil's Fernando de Noronha archipelago needs new energy solutions

Solar and wind power, biofuels, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and energy storage systems are among the options that can partially or fully replace diesel oil in the energy matrix of Brazil's Fernando de Noronha archipelago. 

That is the conclusion of a study recently published by the federal energy research company EPE

In the study, the EPE underlines that a state law (16.810/2020) will result in the growth in the fleet of plug-in electric vehicles on the archipelago, off the coast of Pernambuco state, which will use power generated by the diesel oil-fired Tubarão thermal plant (5MW). 

Replacement of the vehicle fleet with electric alternatives will contribute to an increase in local power demand, resulting in the need to expand the existing generation park.

Another reason for the growth in power consumption is the plan to expand the capacity of the archipelago's water desalination system, which will triple processing of seawater from 130m3/h to 360m3/h. The current system is responsible for 10% of the island's energy consumption.

Between 2023 and 2031, power consumption in Fernando de Noronha is projected to jump around 40%.

Fernando de Noronha's forecast energy consumption growth. Source: EPE

Given this scenario, the EPE analyzed various technologies to identify the best options to generate electricity on the island chain in the coming years to replace the use of diesel oil, since Fernando de Noronha is a natural heritage site that must be preserved.

The study identified that wind and PV solar technologies, mainly offshore, are the most promising alternatives due to the availability of these sources. However, the lack of available area on the islands and environmental issues could cause difficulties to implement this type of generation.

Liquid fuels for power generation can be transported from the mainland to the islands, following the same logistics that are currently used for diesel oil. In this sense, ethanol and biodiesel seem promising, with the emphasis on biodiesel due to the diversity of inputs and technological routes that can be used for its production.

The EPE also verified that LNG could be an alternative to supply Fernando de Noronha. To enable this solution, issues related to the establishment of a regasification terminal, in addition to environmental issues, would have to be considered. 

Battery storage systems would also be a feasible alternative, being able to meet demand flexibly, without requiring much space and having a low impact. This solution can be used in conjunction with renewables that provide variable generation.

The EPE highlighted that there are various difficulties to connection the archipelago to the national power grid, so Fernando de Noronha will continue to an isolated system for several years at least. 


The concession for the distribution and generation of energy in Fernando de Noronha belongs to Neoenergia Celpe. Its generation concession is valid until March 2030.

Besides the Tubarão thermal plant, the archipelago has two solar power plants: Noronha I (402kWp) and Noronha II (550kWp), which started operations in 2014 and 2015, respectively. 

Both were donated, the first to the air force aeronautical command and the second to the island's administration. Generation of these plants is therefore deducted from the demand to be supplied by the distributor.

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