Yingli sees distributed LatAm joy

World Cup sponsor Yingli expects a “retraction” in developers’ interest in utility-scale solar projects in Latin America, but anticipates a vibrant distributed PV market in the years ahead.

There has been a flurry of recent announcements related to large-scale PV projects in Latin America, from Brazil’s upcoming solar-only auction, to the news last week that Yingli is close to a 5MW deal with Brazil’s Renova.

Yet the biggest opportunity in Latin America over the medium term lies in distributed PV, claims Tim Larrison, vice president for finance at Yingli Green Energy Americas.

“I’m betting on [distributed generation], smaller assets,” said Larrison, speaking at this week’s Intersolar North America conference.

Larrison expects much of the recent interest in utility-scale PV arrays in Central and South America to ebb eventually.

“What you see historically, with gas or infrastructure, is that when utility-scale projects dry up in Europe and the US, developers start scratching their heads, thinking, ‘Let’s go south’”.

“Maybe they do a deal or two. But inevitably people get burned, because of classic emerging-markets risk,” he says. “And there’s a retraction on the bigger projects. You see this exact cycle repeating itself.”

Distributed PV, however, it is a different story.  “[Each individual project] is not big money, and you’re taking a lot less government risk in these emerging markets.”

Yingli sees itself scoring “maybe a little utility work in Chile with the mining companies”, says Larrison.

“But we feel pretty strongly that we’re going to see a lot of growth [in distributed PV] in the coming years.”