Yingli: Brazil PV set for huge growth

Brazil’s nascent solar market is on the cusp of explosive growth that will catapult it into the same league as other major PV markets around the world, according to Yingli Solar’s head in the country.

Makus Vlasits, chief executive for Yingli in Brazil, says Yingli has a roughly 50% market share in Brazil, while acknowledging that the Brazilian market is still “very small”.

"In absolute terms, the PV market doesn't really exist," Vlasits said while speaking at a conference, adding that the country's total installed capacity is only about 30MW.

But the market may finally take off on the back of a reserve auction in Brazil scheduled for late October, for which more than 400 solar projects with a combined potential generation capacity topping 10GW have been registered.

Only a tiny fraction of that is expected to be awarded contracts to sell solar power, though, as PV has to compete with other renewable energy sources in the auction.

"We can't compete with the cost of wind power," Vlasits acknowledged. But he added that solar can complement other energy sources in a very interesting way.

Wind power in many Brazilian regions is strongest in evening and night hours and falls off toward midday when solar reaches its peak.

"Brazil has excellent solar resources," the Yingli executive pointed out. "The town with the lowest solar radiation levels, Joinville in [southern] Santa Catarina state, still has 40% more radiation than the best spots in Germany," he said.

Located in Northern Europe and cloudy much of the year, Germany nevertheless has managed to build up the world's so-far largest installed PV capacity of an accumulated 35GW.

For the solar sector to take off in Brazil, a sustainable demand level needs to be built up in order to allow for a real industrialization of the industry in the country, Vlasits stressed.

Vlasits spoke at a panel on manufacturers as the only representative of the solar industry at the Brazil Wind Power fair and conference in Rio de Janeiro that ends Thursday.