Brazil garnering EU PVSEC’s attention

07. September 2011 | Top News, Markets & Trends, Global PV markets, 26th EU PVSEC | By:  Shamsiah Ali-Oettinger/Becky Stuart

At the 26th EU PVSEC, among the leading photovoltaic technology developers, quieter Halls A and C, and some questionable marketing campaigns (more to come on those later), was one country garnering attention, without even being present: Brazil.

Electricity lines in Brazil

Brazil's photovoltaic potential is becoming increasingly recognized. Image: Flickr/Diego3336.

A large number of equipment manufacturers are predicting the rise of the South American country in the photovoltaic industry. With that said, however, it does not mean that China will be playing second fiddle.

The Chinese will continue to dominate and grow exponentially like the previous year, but as Oerlikon Solar’s head of market development Chris O’Brien tells pv magazine, "Brazil definitely has a lot to offer". He adds that he sees Brazil as being on the "cusp of developing into a large grid-connected photovoltaic market".

Off-grid vs. grid connected

Brazil has been relatively active in photovoltaics for many years now. However, the country has been mainly focused on supplying electricity via off-grid solar installations. The Intersolar Award 2011 winner Autarcon, for example, brought photovoltaics and water purification with its SuMeWa|System, as pv magazine reported back in June.

Despite this off-grid activity, a major breakthrough into photovoltaics has been slow.

However, having the sunny status on being the B in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries, Brazil has got the potential to reach the levels India and China have been achieving.

Furthermore, as was reported in pv magazine back in June, there are indications that the Brazilian government will promulgate market-enabling legislation, which will finally permit broad grid connections for solar installations by the end of this year.

Substantial potential

The European Photovoltaic Industry Association’s 2014 Global Market Outlook states that Brazil is one of the markets with substantial photovoltaic potential. "Brazil has sun, the resources; the energy demand in the country is increasing and this calls for a need for more energy capacity," adds O’Brien.

While Oerlikon Solar is one company that has been active in Brazil, other equipment manufacturers are also beginning to see the country’s potential, particularly as it already has the infrastructure necessary to support the set-up of photovoltaic production facilities, on top of power plants.

Local photovoltaic production started to take shape after the decision by the Brazilian Centre for Development of Solar PV Energy developed a pilot plant to manufacture cost-effective modules and silicon cells at scale with government support.

Now Brazilian companies are beginning to collaborate with the bigger names in Europe and the U.S. Turnkey solution provider, Spire, for instance, has its eyes on Brazil, and has already agreed to provide a 20 megawatt (MW) module production line to Tecnometal Equipamentos (Tecnometal).

Meanwhile, Brazil's first commercial scale (one MW) photovoltaic plant was connected to the national grid, in June. MPX Energia and General Electric (GE) signed an agreement last month to double the capacity of the Taua project, thus marking GE’s entrance into the Brazilian photovoltaic market.

Other developers have also been teaming up with Brazilian counterparts. Gehrlicher Solar, for example, has joined up with Ecoluz Participaçõe to cater to the football stadium photovoltaic project trend that is beginning to emerge in the country.

As Gehrlicher highlights, the Estádio de Pituaçu project is the first of many photovoltaic installations planned for Brazil’s football stadiums for the next World Cup.

O’Brien sums up what has been echoed by plenty at this year’s EU PVSEC, "Brazil is a market to watch".


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