By the Blouin News Business staff

EGP bets big on Brazil solar power

by in Americas.

Solar panel on electric pole on road for lightning in countryside, use of Solar energy, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Getty Images

A solar panel on an electric pole for roadside lightning in the countryside outside of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Getty Images

Italian firm Enel Green Power (EGP) said on Monday it had become “the number one company in the Brazilian solar industry.” Following a highly competitive auction on Friday during which the firm won the right to sell power supply contracts for 553MW in Brazil, EGP announced it will be investing €533 ($598) million in three new solar plants totaling that capacity.

EGP has now secured the rights for a total of 818MW of photovoltaic projects in Brazil’s solar auctions and another 700MW of wind power. In May, the firm said it is targeting 7.1GW of renewable energy capacity additions worldwide by 2019. Following its success in winning over half of Brazil’s latest solar offerings, EGP said “We are extremely pleased about this landmark win…” which was “further validation of our Latin America growth strategy.”

Wind, solar, and biomass currently account for 14% of Brazil’s electricity production, and the country is ramping up these non-hydropower renewable energy sources. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and U.S. President Barack Obama announced together in June that non-hydropower renewable resources will account for 20% of the energy supply in each country by 2030.

Solar power is a high priority, because the sunny country’s total installed photovoltaic power capacity is currently only 15MW, at most — less than 0.01% of its total energy matrix. But this won’t be the case for long. Brazil’s first national solar energy auction was held last year, and resulted in over 1GW of new solar energy projects getting started. And in the auction on Friday, Brazil offered 20-year fixed-price power purchase agreements, on the condition that they can only be received if winning bidders have their projects fully operational by November 2018. A total of 834MW of solar projects were then awarded at an average price of $0.0842/kWh, or 13.5% below the maximum price set for the auction. The 30 newly-licensed solar parks are expected to cost $1.2 billion, and they bring the number of solar parks under construction in Brazil to 61. All are expected to start operations by late 2017.

Brazil’s next solar auction will be on November 13th, with equally high expectations of over-subscription and cost savings for the government from such intense competition. Additionally, a 180MW solar photovoltaic manufacturing facility— the largest one in Brazil —  was inaugurated on Friday in Valinhos, São Paulo.  So now the industry has very good news as Brazil prepares to host the prestigious Intersolar South America conference from Tuesday through Thursday in São Paulo.