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German PV group Calyxo could set up operation in Brazil

German manufacturer Calyxo is looking at entering the Brazilian solar market.

The cadmium-telluride thin-film producer, owned by Solar Fields, visited Brazil in January to talk to potential clients about installing PV projects — and production capacity if there is sufficient demand, chief executive Florian Holz­apfel tells Recharge.

Calyxo has begun looking for local distribution and installation partners.

“We have had quite some interest from people who would like us producing in Brazil, and we are interested in doing that,” Holzapfel says. “But first we have to see that the market is coming and that it is large enough for a dedicated facility.”

Although there has been interest in building solar projects in Brazil, only one 1MW PV plant is in operation and linked to the grid.

Demand of at least 50MW a year for Calyxo’s modules would be required for the group to open a local plant, says Holzapfel. However, initial installations of 10MW in the first year and 20-30MW in the second could be sufficient to justify building a factory, he adds.

Solar is considered expensive in Brazil, but Holzapfel says that with attractive financing conditions, “there are situations where, without a feed-in tariff, it can make sense to install PV in competition with other energy sources”.

He says investors will need to look at 15-year payback periods, though, rather than the three to four years that they want. As a result, PV growth in Brazil is likely to be slow at first, and be project- and investor-specific.

Calyxo is looking at projects of 1-3MW, which would be built for large consumers that may be prepared to pay a little more than utilities. Holzapfel says his projects could be feasible with rates of about $0.10 per kWh, but potential customers are looking at $0.12-0.14/kWh.

He suggests Brazil consider incentives for the first 100MW, as in other countries, to get the necessary infrastructure and supply chain built. “Once you are done with the initial subsidy, the market will continue.”