Brazil continues solar surge as national auction attracts 400 solar power projects

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The upcoming national renewable energy auction in Brazil has attracted 400 applications for PV plant development.

Brazil’s Energy Research Company (EPE), the government arm of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has registered more than 1,000 applicants for the reserve energy auction, or ‘A-3’ renewables-only national auction.

There are 1,034 applications and the auction is to be held on 31 October.

More than 26GW of renewable energy projects have been registered with wind dominating with 626 projects registered, totalling 15GW of capacity.

The 400 solar projects registered total more than 10GW, and there are eight thermal and biogas projects totalling 151MW.

Out of the 400 solar projects registered, 161, more than 4GW, are in the east coast state of Bahia, 15 applications totalling 324MW are in Ceará, four totalling 35MW, are registered in Goiás, and one 20MW project in Mato Grosso do Sul.

Brazil’s second most populous state, Minas Gerais has 17 projects with a joint capacity of 507MW, Parabia 25 projects, 653MW.

Home to Brazil’s first solar auction, Pernambuco has 43 projects registered totalling 1.15GW, Piauí 45 projects, 1.2GW.

Rio Grande do Norte has 42 solar projects, 1.15GW, São Paulo 788MW across 26 projects, and the newest state of Brazil, Tocantins has 21 registered solar projects totalling 590MW.

“The high number of projects registered already allows us to anticipate that [the A-3] will be a competitive auction,” said chairman of the EPE, Mauricio Tolmasquim.

He added that the solar capacity registered is more than the controversial hydroelectric (11GW) Belo Monte Dam, currently being constructed on the Xingu River in Brazil.

Brazil’s electricity prices have sky-rocketed due to a severe drought affecting hydro-power generation. 

In response to the drought, last year’s A-5 and A-3 energy auctions were the first national auctions in Brazil to include solar projects; however zero were contracted last year due to the ceiling prices proving too high for solar projects to compete in Brazil.  

Tolmasquin previously said the A-3 auction would focus on solar; this year, the A-3 auction has been arranged with a solar-only category. It is to be the first time solar is not competing head to head with other energy sources, and it is hoped this will kick start Brazil’s solar market and the ceiling price will be around BR250 per MWh (US$111).

Tolmasquin has also said BNDES, Brazil’s national development bank, is to release details on solar -pecific funding soon, including local content loans.

Funding is already available for solar projects that win in the A-3 auction from BNDES, using its Climate Fund

BNDES will fund companies with headquarters and management in Brazil or public entities that are building renewable energy generation projects through public auctions. The 2014 Climate Fund available for this is BR200 million (US$89.5 million).

The funding aims to attract national manufacturing facilities to the country with local content policies will be introduced to different companies to see if there is interest first

Tolmasquin said wind prices in Brazil have plummeted over three years, and although the same might not happen as quickly with PV, Brazil has better levels of insolation than European countries such as Germany which will help solar become competitive.

Before the A-3 auction, the national, all-energy ‘A-5’ auction will be held on 30 September, after being postponed from 12 September. More than 6GW of solar projects have been registered in the A-5.

Read more about solar auctions in Brazil, from sister site Solar Business Focus, here.

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