How Brazil will play a bigger role in global PV sector

BN America

The PV solar market is growing at a fast pace in many countries around the world and Brazil is no exception.
To learn more in detail about the Brazilian PV market's growth and the opportunities it offers to foreign investors, BNamericas spoke to Rodrigo Sauaia, who is executive president of the country's solar power association ABSOLAR.
BNamericas: Why has Brazil's PV solar power capacity increased so much this year?
Sauaia: We currently have approximately 380MW in terms of centralized generation and some 130MW in distributed generation, totaling 510 operational MW. By the end of the year, the sector should achieve its first GW.
This is the result of the start of solar plant operations contracted since 2014 by the federal government and the positive development of the solar market in the country, with consumers being forced to seek alternatives due to the increase in electric power rates. Another relevant factor is the reduction in solar equipment prices, which are becoming more competitive. It is already cheaper to generate power on your roof than buying it from third parties.
BNamericas: What is the current profile of the PV consumer in Brazil?
Sauaia: For the first time ever the corporate sector's share has surpassed that of the residential sector, with a 37% participation against the latter's 31%. This has to do with easier access to competitive financing available for service providers compared to individuals. Another 19% is represented by industrial plants, 9% by rural units and 4% by state-run establishments.
BNamericas: How has the PV production chain developed in Brazil?
Sauaia: We already have over 1,000 manufacturers producing photovoltaic equipment, including modules and inverters, generating thousands of jobs and development in different parts of the country.
BNamericas: Which regions present the biggest PV solar power potential?
Sauaia: There is potential for all Brazilian states to become world-class solar power providers. So far, we see that several northeastern states have been concentrating solar plants, while states in the southeast and the south make up the main distributed energy projects - and most of the local production chain. The central-west region has also shown big appetite and accelerated solar power growth.
BNamericas: What are the potential niches for foreign investors?
Sauaia: There are several opportunities on the table. There is plenty of room for the participation of new companies and business models in the distributed power generation segment with direct consumers in a variety of areas of the economy, such as civil construction and commercial establishments.
There is also a growing demand for companies specializing in the operation, maintenance, safety, monitoring and cleaning of solar plants.
BNamericas: Is there financial support available for investors?
Sauaia: Development banks, such as BNDES, offer credit lines attached with local content requirements. The Brazilian government has been using these mechanisms in order to attract investments and build a local production chain. There are lots of opportunities for foreign investors to bring their technological expertise to the Brazilian market, either on their own or with the support of a local partner.
BNamericas: What is your investment forecasts for the coming years?
Sauaia: We will be disclosing a detailed number by year-end, but the EPE [Brazil's energy research company] estimates that the photovoltaic solar power sector will grow by 1GW per year through 2026, including an accumulated 9.5GW in big solar plants and 3.5 GW in distributed energy projects, totaling more than 13GW in this period.
It is a huge leap, representing 144-fold growth. Gradually, Brazil will definitely play a bigger global role in the coming years.
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