Brazil ready for solar auctions

Brazil is ready to hold yearly auctions for large-scale solar power as soon as the government decides whether it will be part of the country's energetic policies, says André Pepitone, director at Brazil's power regulator Aneel.

"The regulatory structure for the auctions is ready and Aneel has registered enough projects to hold yearly auctions with 1000MW or more with 10-year contracts,” he says.

Pepitone suggested A-1 auctions for solar power, which means that projects have to be built and start delivering power within 12 months after the tender.

He also notes that prices have been coming down while technology has been stabilizing. “It's a question of price,” he adds.

Aneel has been contacted by companies who say they can now, with current technology, sell solar power at around R$200/MWh ($85.50). This compares with wind which is sold at around R$120/MWh.

Pepitone also suggests that implementation of government policies requiring national content similar to those for wind, would also boost the local solar industry and reduce long-term prices.

He stresses, however, that this depends on the Mines and Energy Ministry and Brazil's federal Energy Research Company (EPE) – the country's energy planning body – deciding on specific policies for solar power.

Last year, the government allowed solar project developers to participate in regular auctions. About 30 projects with a combined capacity of around 800MW were registered for the tenders. No power from solar projects was sold because they could not compete with cheaper power from other technologies.

In December 2013, Brazil's northeastern state of Pernambuco held a regional auction in which 122MW of solar power was sold for an average price of R$229/MWh.