392 megawatts (MW) of solar is a lot. Brazil, which has been a wind energy leader for a long time, has started to get going in the solar energy arena. As a testament to that, in one recent week, it saw a tremendous surge of applications for solar power projects that totaled 392.4 MW.
Brazil’s surge in a solar power focus has come (incidentally or on purpose) in conjunction with the upcoming FIFA World Cup that will be located there. It is building several solar-powered football/soccer stadiums for the event, the first of which just opened up. The stadium hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup final will be capped with over 1,500 solar panels.
But one of the key drivers of solar in Brazil is that it has become cheaper than the cost of grid electricity in the country. In December 2012, we noted an influx of 21 solar power project applications in the country totaling nearly 1,000 MW (1 gigawatt) of solar power capacity. In mid-May 2013, 13 requests were put in for the 392.4 MW total mentioned above, following about 300 MW across 12 requests not long before that.
“Solar energy developer Arigó Solar Energia SPE submitted a request for the registration of one photovoltaic project totaling 30 MW. The plant is to be developed in Pocinhos municipality, in Brazil’s northeast Paraíba state,” PV Magazine writes.
In the same issue, ANEEL revealed that developer Solyes Geradora de Energia Ltda applied for registration for two photovoltaic plants: 30 MW Sol do Sertão XV and 30 MW Sol do Sertão XVIII, in Cônego Marinho municipality, in Minas Gerais state.
On May 9, the Brazilian regulator disclosed that Renova Energia, also submitted a request for registration for its 30.24 MW Caetité V photovoltaic plant, slated for construction in Bahía’s Caetité municipality.
Finally, in the same DOU issue, ANEEL announced that CPFL Energias Renováveis, the third largest Brazilian electric utility, submitted requests for regulatory authorization for 10 new photovoltaic plants with a combined capacity of 302.4 MW. The plants will be developed in Ourolândia municipality, in the northeastern state of Bahia.
The market is certainly heating up (no pun intended).
Even prior to this solar surge, Brazil has been a renewable energy leader. 88.8% of Brazilian electricity came from renewable sources in 2011. A huge portion of that came from hydropower (which obviously has its issues), but biomass and wind power also provided notable amounts.
Wind power has been dominating Brazil’s power auctions for years. It is projected to hit 15.6 GW of capacity by 2021. But it is also ripe to become a clear solar power leader, accounting for 37% of Latin American solar power growth by 2017 according to NPD Solarbuzz.
The country has excellent solar resources, and it recently adopted solar energy tax breaks for utilities (an 80% discount) and net metering (allowing consumers and businesses to sell electricity from renewable sources to grid operators).
To keep up with the latest Brazil cleantech news, keep an eye on our Brazil news archives.