SAO PAULO, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Brazil gave the green light on Friday for the construction of 29 new power generation facilities in the country, awarding licenses for windmills, small hydropower plants, biomass and gas-fueled installations expected to cost around 2.5 billion reais ($716 million).
According to the power sector regulator Aneel, 669.5 megawatts (MW) of capacity were auctioned off, resulting in an average price of 188 reais per megawatt-hour ($53.88 per MWh).
Wind farms will account for the bulk of the new supply expected to be added to the national grid in 2018, accounting for 538 MW of the new capacity.
Brazil has been licensing varied sources of power generation in the last two years, trying to diversify its power mix which is heavily dependent on large hydroelectric plants.
Below average rainfall in 2013 and 2014 depleted hydroelectric reservoirs, bringing the country to the brink of a power collapse, which has only recently started to appear less likely.
Power distributors that were most active in this round of the auction were Light, with 16.6 percent of total power auctioned, Copel (14.4 percent) and Celesc (9.2 percent).
Brazil's largest power distributor AES Eletropaulo , controlled by AES Corp, bought only 1.6 percent of the total power auctioned.
As expected, discounts to the maximum allowed prices were very small, at only 2.5 percent on average, reflecting a scenario of rising installation costs due to tight financing and to a weak currency that makes imported equipment more expensive.
$1 = 3.489 Brazilian reais Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira and Luciano Costa; Editing by Phil Berlowitz