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Fourth-gen touts Brazilian wind investments

The fourth-gen head of an Argentinian renewable energy company has extolled the virtues of investing in wind power in Brazil at a forum in London this month.
Santa Catarina wind farm

The fourth-gen head of an Argentinian renewable energy company has extolled the virtues of investing in wind power in Brazil at a forum in London this month.

Luis Pescarmona, chief executive of century-old family business Impsa, said there were many opportunities along the supply chain in Brazil’s wind sector, including logistics, machining and large castings.

Impsa has two production centres in the northeastern region of Brazil, which was the focus of the investment forum, Business Opportunities in Brazil: Pernambuco State, attended by the state governor and the ambassador of Brazil to the UK.

Headquartered in Argentina, Impsa last year saw sales of $1 billion. It designs, manufactures and sells turbines and other power equipment, and develops wind and hydro power generation projects.

Pescarmona said when the family business first entered Brazil there were government subsidies to establish wind turbine factories, but today those subsidies were no longer required, because the energy source was so much cheaper than the alternatives.

“Gas is very expensive in Brazil, hydro is the cheapest form of energy you have, but you have environmental issues and licensing and so on. So what’s the alternative? The next cheapest source is wind,” he said.

Logistics was a particular area of opportunity for investors, Pescarmona said, currently accounting for 15% of the cost of a wind turbine in Brazil, whereas elsewhere it would normally only make up around 7% of the cost.

He said recruiting skilled factory staff and middle management had been one difficulty Impsa had experienced when entering Brazil, but that it had tackled this with rigorous training schemes.

Impsa operates in more than 25 countries and is the largest wind power producer in Latin America. In 2011, it topped CampdenFB’s Global Challengers – a list of the world’s fastest growing family businesses. 

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