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Lightsource BP buys 1.9GW of solar in Brazil

Group part-owned by oil major said to acquire projects from Brazilian developer that sold power in record-low-price tender

Lightsource BP has agreed to buy 1.9GW of solar projects from the Brazilian developer that was among the winners in the country's tender that produced world-record-low prices last week.

The UK-based renewables operator, in which BP holds a 43% share, will acquire the PV projects, at various stages of development, from Enerlife. The value of the acquisition was not disclosed.

Enerlife sold power from five PV projects in last week's A-4 power tender that produced a world record-low average solar power price equivalent to $17.7/MWh for the total of 204MW procured.

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PV is being heavily tipped as the star performer of Brazilian renewables over the next decade, with analysts expecting it to outstrip wind for growth in a market with excellent solar resources and an appetite for low-cost renewable power.

A Brazilian deal would mark another ramp-up for Lightsource BP's ambitions beyond Europe, adding to existing activity in key markets such as India and the US. It currently has 2GW of solar under its wing.

Kareen Boutonnat, group chief operating officer for Lightsource BP said: “This move creates a very firm footprint for us across the region and bringing the Enerlife team onboard significantly enhances our local capability and experience. These are the building blocks of which we will grow a very successful solar business across Brazil.”

Enerlife was founded in March 2019 by Portuguese company Positivehope LDA, which already invests in renewables in Europe. It shortlisted 800MW of solar projects for the most recent tender, although only 164MW won contracts.

BP took a 43% stake in Lightsource in 2017. Recharge revealed last week how the oil major is eyeing a role in offshore wind as part of a widening of its renewable energy interests beyond solar and onshore wind.

Apart from Lightsource BP, Recharge has reported how several other oil companies in the region are increasingly investing in renewables.

In Brazil, federal oil company Petrobras already operates 104MW of wind, and has earmarked around $400m for renewables over the next four years, which includes memorandums of understanding with Norway’s Equinor (for offshore wind) and France’s Total (for onshore wind).

The two European groups already invest in renewables in Brazil: Equinor’s first solar plant is located in Brazil, and Total lined up 1GW of solar projects for the last tender.

Shell has also been prospecting solar and wind investments in Brazil and the region.

In neighbouring Argentina, state controlled oil and gas group YPF span off its power unit YPF Luz in 2018 to specifically invest in renewables. It has 340MW in operation or under construction.

Other oil and petrochemical companies such as Pampa Energia, Pan American Energy and Petroquimica Comodoro Rivadavia, the latter with 326MW of wind, also have interests in renewables.

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