Brazil eyes key rooftop PV change

Brazil's power regulator Aneel is studying whether to expand net metering regulations and incentives to rooftop PV systems over 1MW, potentially opening a mid-scale market.

“It's a very interesting idea, since it eliminates a limit imposed by the regulations that created a limbo for projects between 1MW and 5MW”, said Rodrigo Sauaia, president of the Brazilian Solar Power Association (Absolar).

While micro-generation takes into account only projects up to 1MW, large scale solar is considered only if it is 5MW or more.

Sauaia and market agents said that this could allow large commercial establishments such as shopping malls, factories, warehouses and residential condominiums to take advantage of the 2012 net metering legislation and 80%, 10-year wire fee discounts.

Aneel's online public consultation process is open through 7 July, after which time its specialists will compile the suggestions made by the public and propose regulatory changes. Aside from the proposed capacity bump, Aneel will also revise net-metering installation procedures and technologies because of higher capacities.

The changes were suggested by the Association of Power Co-Generation Industry (Cogen), a trade group representing mostly sugar-cane derived biomass energy producers, but solar companies welcomed the idea.

“This is a very interesting change for the solar sector”, said Leonidas Andrade, head of the solar photovoltaic work group at the Association of Brazilian Electronic and Electric Equipment Makers, Abinee. “The 1MW ceiling has been limiting the expansion of rooftop solar power in the country."

Andrade said Abinee would participate in the public consultation process and suggested that Aneel should also consider allowing different companies to share a single solar array.

Sauaia said that there is demand for rooftop projects up to 10MW.

Although the net-metering regulations were implemented in 2012, Brazilians have been slow at investing in solar power since there is little financing and the technology is relatively expensive.

Brazil's solar PV capacity is 9.3MW, made up of 108 operating solar plants. Of those, six projects are large scale and account for 8.4MW.