Chile leads LatAm PV surge

Latin America will bring 1GW of PV on line in 2014 - seven times last year's figure.

Chile is leading the way, according to GTM Research; with 277MW to be installed this year, it is now the region's largest market.

Mexico's pending energy legislation makes it unlikely to come out on top, as initially forecast by the research group, althoough the country is still expected to be the biggest regional market in the long run. "Everyone is just waiting for the new rules of the road", James says..

GTM's new Q3 2014 Latin America PV Playbook says the region's PV project pipeline rose by 22% in the last quarter, reaching 19.5GW.

Capacity under construction was up by 52% over the first quarter of the year, with 836MW being built and 18.7GW announced.

While on-grid residential and commercial markets will exceed 100MW this year, most demand is from the utility-scale segment.

Chile is "pioneering sustainable solar markets", says GTM global solar analyst Adam James.

"The strong fundamentals in the Chilean market are finally translating into real results, as credible projects secure offtake agreements and lock in financing.

"We are seeing many companies pursuing non-traditional business models for selling solar power, such as negotiating shorter-length or more flexible contracts and selling some, or all, power into the spot electricity market."

Chile recently opened the largest PV plant in Latin America,the 100MW Amanecer in the Atacama Desert, and Spain's Acciona EnergĂ­a announced this month that it will build the initial 7.2MW phase of a planned 360MW project in the same area. SunPower's 70MW project in Salvador is due to be completed in December.