Latin America is on track to install 2.2 GW of solar PV in 2016, up 55% over 2014’s still relatively impressive 1.4 GW, according to new figures from GTM Research.
GTM Research’s new Latin America PV Playbook, published today, tracks solar projects, policies, and market developments across South America, Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean, collectively making up Latin America. Currently, Chile is the leading solar PV market in the region, with a cumulative total of 1.4 GW of solar installed so far — eight-times that in its closest competitor, Mexico. Chile achieved 37% of the regional demand in 2015, and will hold its lead through 2016. However, according to GTM, this is set to change, with both Mexico and Brazil predicted to install more solar PV than Chile in 2017, and eventually surpass Chile’s cumulative capacity sometime in 2018, if all proceeds accordingly.
In 2016, Chile is set to acquire 30% of the regional demand, followed hot on its heels by Mexico with 29%, and Brazil with 14%. The solar PV markets in Chile, Mexico, and Brazil are all currently benefiting from utility-scale solar auctions, out-competing all other clean technologies.
Brazil’s 3 GW pipeline is impressive, however, the current discrepancy between auction results and actual installations is glaring — but GTM expects this to change in 2016 and 2017. GTM’s market outlook for Brazil is “Weak” due to “Significant downside risks from political uncertainty and a very weak macro-economic environment.” Additionally, falling electricity demand and cancellation of several transmission projects has further weakened the country’s outlook.
“Projects are struggling to construct because of a lack of affordable financing,” said Mohit Anand, senior solar analyst and lead author of the report. “An economic downturn coupled with significant political risk has made it impossible to access debt globally. On the other hand, low cost financing from the Brazilian development bank BNDES is available only by using domestically manufacturing modules, which again are hard to procure because of little local manufacturing.”
Overall, Latin America is expected to grow 55% in 2016, installing up to 2.2 GW, and attracting ever-increasing shares of global demand, before it peaks in 2018 at 9.3%.
Utility-scale auctions are seeing solar out-compete all other technologies dramatically. According to the report’s authors, recent auctions saw solar walk away with 20% of the offered capacity in Chile, 63% in Brazil, 40% in Peru, and 72% in Mexico. Mexico in particular now has the lowest power purchase agreement prices ever recorded as a result of its latest auction. In 2017, GTM expects Mexico to install 2 GW, accounting for nearly half of all installations in the entire Latin America region that year.