Brazil PV surges 3MW in a month

Brazil's operating solar capacity surged 3MW in April after the start of tests at the Nova Aurora pilot built by Tractebel, the local unit of GDF Suez.

The country has 98 PV "plants" in operation, mostly micro-generation systems of less than 20kW.

Nova Aurora is now the biggest solar producer in Brazil, a position previously occupied jointly by the 1MW Tanquinho plant of CPFL Renováveis and the 1MW Tauá plant of Eneva – formerly the EBX of failed energy and mining tycoon Eike Batista.

Nova Aurora and Tanquinho were included in the 2011 R&D programme promoted by power regulator Aneel, which directed mandatory R&D investments for solar power. Under Brazilian legislation, power companies have to invest 0.5% of annual net revenues in R&D and power-efficiency projects.

The 2011 solar programme received 18 proposals adding up to 24.6MW and investments of R$394m ($178.5m).

Tractebel's programme, which included Nova Aurora and seven other solar testing sites in different regions, cost R$56m.

The plant's assembly was carried out by local electric equipment manufacturer Weg, which won the EPC contract. The company developed and oversaw the project's implementation, including the assembly of imported panels and inverters.

Nova Aurora is testing three different cell technologies: mono-crystalline, polycrystalline and thin-film CIGS. Different arrangements of inverters are also being tested, and other proprietary technologies are being deployed at the sites.

The cell technology was provided by Yingli, Hanwha SolarOne, First Solar, Dupont Apollo and Saint-Gobain. Inverters were supplied by Power One.