Brazil's Renova to bid 240MW PV

Brazilian independent renewables company, Renova Energia, plans to list 240MW of PV projects at auctions this year encompassing the technology, CEO Mathias Becker told Recharge.

The projects are about 30MW each in size and are located in the northeastern state of Bahia, where the company operates and is building 1.2GW of wind farms.

Becker said that he expects the solar auction to be competitive and Renova will aim to sign between 10% to 20% of all contracts in this year's upcoming solar power auctions.

“We don't want to win just one race, we want to win the whole championship,” he said.

The total installed capacity of solar projects that Renova should list this year is the same as in 2013, when the government allowed solar projects to compete with other sources in the auctions.

No power was sold because the price set was considered too low for PV power in Brazil to compete.

This year, however, the government will hold separate auctions for solar power which, according to officials, should occur by the end of the third quarter. Guidelines are expected to be published before the end of May.

The auction will also include waste-to-energy projects. Nevertheless, Becker said that the price cap and local content rules will determine whether Renova will effectively bid at the auction.

“A price cap anywhere between R$200/MWh ($90.7/MWh) and R$250/MWh makes solar feasible,” he said.

Solar is the most expensive energy source in Brazil. By comparison, large-scale hydroelectric projects reach wholesale market prices around R$100/MWh; the price of wind is around R$120/MWh; and thermoelectric plants sell power around R$160/MWh.

The government has signalled that it will ease rules for local content in the case of solar by giving equipment suppliers enough time to reach levels set by the national development bank BNDES of at least 60%.

So far Renova has installed about 10 micro-generation solar projects for clients, but since last year it has more actively sought opportunities to develop its own medium and large scale projects.

A reduction in consumer power bills decreed last year and the government's decision to promote larger solar PV projects brought about the change, said Becker.

The company's first wholly-owned solar project was announced last week – a solar-wind hybrid project with 4.8MW and 21.7MW of installed capacity respectively.

Becker says he wants to take advantage of the complementary nature of solar and wind in Brazil, and more specifically in the state of Bahia.

“Very few people in the world combine the two sources and here they complement each other since stronger wind start picking up between 4pm and 5pm and increase during the night, while solar peaks during the day,” he said.