Brazil 'may have 2GW PV by 2019'

Brazil could have 2GW of PV power plants in operation by 2019 after the government's decision to hold the first auction for solar power, which is expected to occur around the start of the fourth quarter this year, Maurício Tolmasquim, president of the Energy Planning Company (EPE) told Recharge.

“2014 will be year of large-scale solar power in Brazil,” he said.

According to power regulator Aneel, Brazil currently has 9MW of PV power plants in operation, the largest being the 3MW Nova Aurora pilot plant built by Tractebel.

The guidelines for the reserve auction should be published in about three weeks, kicking off a period for the preliminary listing of projects. The projects sold will need to be built by 2017.

Aside from solar power projects, the auction will also focus on energy-to-waste.

The government decided to separate PV projects from cheaper sources such as wind power after no solar power was sold in two auctions last year. In the second A-5 auction, over 2GW of projects had been cleared to offer power, but because the average price came in at around R$120/MWh ($54/MWh), none were successful.

Tolmasquim didn't say what the maximum price at this year's solar auction would be, but said it would be higher and close to investors' expectations.

Investors in solar power in Brazil say a feasible price for PV power is more than R$200/MWh, with some citing as a minimum R$250/MWh.

There are no plans for subsidising solar power apart from mechanisms currently used for other renewable energy technologies, such as a 50% discount on transmission wire fees and cheaper financing from government institutions, Tolmasquim said.

He said, however, that discussions within the government are on-going to allow solar developers to import solar cells and other components, which would require some way to reduce local content requirements from the National Development Bank BNDES.