The recently signed contract between Atlas Renewable Energy and Albras, the largest aluminum producer in Brazil, marks a significant milestone. By supplying solar energy, this contract has the potential to pave the way for similar agreements across the country. These agreements can successfully combine elements such as competitiveness, sustainability, predictability, supply assurance, and social development. It’s important to note that these components can be incorporated into contracts for energy-intensive sectors like aluminum production and the broader industrial sector as a whole.
Luis Pita, Atlas Renewable Energy’s general manager for Brazil, emphasizes the highly competitive nature of the contract for Albras. He underscores the significance of energy as a crucial input, representing a substantial portion of the production costs within the aluminum industry. Notably, this marks the second contract signed between Atlas and Albras, showcasing their ongoing partnership. Furthermore, Atlas Renewable Energy has an extensive customer portfolio in Brazil, including prominent entities such as the mining company Anglo American and chemical companies Unipar and Dow Chemical, among others.
Signed in April 2023, the new agreement with Albras is the largest contract of this type ever signed in Latin America, both in volume of energy and duration. The long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) involves the supply of approximately 2 terawatt-hours (TWh) per year of solar energy. This amount of energy is enough to supply a city of about 3 million inhabitants, such as Brasília, the capital of Brazil. And this amount of clean energy also allows the offsetting of about 154,000 tons of CO₂ emissions per year.
Under the new agreement, the energy will be sourced from the Vista Alegre solar photovoltaic generation project, which boasts an impressive installed capacity of 902 megawatts peak (MWp). This project represents Atlas Renewable Energy’s largest undertaking in Brazil thus far. Situated in the state of Minas Gerais, the Vista Alegre project is scheduled to commence operations in 2025. Despite the intermittent nature of solar energy generation, the contract ensures a continuous power supply 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Atlas Renewable Energy relies on a diverse portfolio of generation contracts from various renewable sources to achieve this. By leveraging this portfolio, the company can effectively regulate the energy supply for Albras, ensuring a consistent and uninterrupted flow. Consequently, the long-term contract with the aluminum manufacturer guarantees the utilization of clean technologies throughout its duration.
“One of the characteristics of the contracts we sign is that they are all sustainable. In our portfolio mix, we do not consider other sources that are not completely sustainable,» adds Pita.
Another important factor of the long-term contracts signed by Atlas in the energy market is the social component.
In addition to its economic competitiveness, Atlas Renewable Energy takes pride in being chosen by Albras for the social component it offers. The company’s programs, particularly «We are part of the same energy,» have played a significant role. Through this initiative, Atlas provides training opportunities to women near the projects, encompassing fields such as carpentry, electrical work, and construction. As a result of these efforts, the percentage of women working on Atlas projects has risen from 2% four years ago to over 15% today. This achievement has not gone unnoticed in the market, as it reflects the company’s commitment to the social development of women in the communities where they operate. The executive emphasizes that their contributions are making a tangible difference in improving opportunities for women in these areas.
An additional favorable aspect of the agreement between Atlas Renewable Energy and Albras is that the contract was negotiated in dollars. This particular currency choice offers several advantages, including increased competitiveness for the client and access to foreign sources of financing. Pita, emphasizing Atlas Renewable Energy’s pioneering approach, highlights that Albras has previously signed contracts with Atlas, Anglo American, and Dow Chemical, all in dollars. The executive further explains that while the market typically opts for 15-year contracts, Atlas Renewable Energy stands out by offering a 21-year contract in dollars. This extended duration and currency choice reflect the company’s strong competitiveness. However, Pita emphasizes that the primary focus of their product portfolio is always tailored to meet the specific needs of their customers.
Pita further elaborates on how Atlas Renewable Energy, with its 100% renewable portfolio, can contribute to its customers’ energy transition and decarbonization efforts. He emphasizes the increasing demand for green aluminum, concrete, and steel from major consumers, stating that Atlas actively supports its customers in this transition and helps them develop their sustainable products.
According to Pita, Atlas Renewable Energy’s portfolio of projects and products suits a wide range of clients, including medium and large enterprises seeking competitive and modern energy solutions with various contract terms. The company offers innovative contract models such as energy self-production, which can result in even lower energy costs for the customer. Additionally, they provide the option of issuing renewable energy certificates (I-RECs), globally recognized proof of power generation from renewable sources. These certificates can be traded internationally, enabling companies to offset their carbon footprint.
Atlas Renewable Energy currently operates seven solar photovoltaic plants in Brazil, with a combined installed capacity of 1,205.1 MWp. They also have two additional plants under construction, totaling 1,340 MWp. With this robust project portfolio, Atlas is well-positioned to enter into new long-term contracts similar to the one signed with Albras. They can tailor contracts to meet each consumer’s and industry’s specific needs, including the possibility of negotiating in dollars. Despite being a solar energy company with intermittent production, Atlas guarantees that 100% of the commercially supplied energy is sourced from renewable sources. Moreover, they prioritize social aspects such as local labor training and promoting female participation in their projects, ensuring that customers benefit from competitiveness, sustainability, and social development.