Brazil readies grid connection law

"The market has evolved slowly in Brazil with off-grid installations thus far, but the new law should permit strong growth thereafter," said Nelson Colaferro, Jr., CEO of BlueSol, a solar equipment distribution company based in Riberao Preto, in Sao Paulo state.

Colaferro made the comment during the Intersolar North America show in San Francisco, which is running from July 12 to July 14, and annually draws over 100,000 visitors.

"We have the same expectations in terms of the enabling legislation, and that’s why we’re here at the Intersolar conference, to learn more about what the Brazilian market will need," said Felipe Cerqueira Guth, an infrastructure analyst at the national development bank Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico e Social, (BNDES) in Rio de Janeiro.

What may be the first privately-owned solar power plant in Brazil is a one megawatt pilot plant, which was recently connected to the grid by MPX Energia SA, in Taua, Ceara state.

Kyocera provided solar modules for the facility, and funding included a loan by the InterAmerican Development Bank, based in Washington. MPX, located in Rio de Janeiro, is a publicly-traded independent power producer, which is seeking capital expansion financing from BNDES.

A variety of private, public and non-government agencies have been working to achieve the new solar law. One key player has been the national renewable energy network Renove, or Rede Nacional de Organizações da Sociedade Civil para as Energias Renováveis. Renove has secured funding from the Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), based in Vienna, to help develop the solar market in Brazil.

Brazil has a strong track record in terms of renewable energy development thus far, as the nation with the largest ethanol fuel program, and as the nation with the greatest pumped hydroelectric storage capacity. The country will be a showcase for renewables during the World Cup in soccer, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, in 2014. Yingli Solar is a sponsor of the event.