Downstream activity heats up "south of the border"

More signs of the continuing development of the Latin American photovoltaic market were evident today with downstream photovoltaic developers Martifer Solar and Gehrlicher Solar increasing their activities in Mexico.

Martifer Solar has announced that construction has begun on a 30 MW photovoltaic power plant in Baja California Sur. The company claims that it will be the largest utility scale photovoltaic power plant in Latin America and quadruple the country’s installed capacity at the same time.

The project is called Aura Solar and Martifer will provide the EPC and O&M services for the plant. The plant will supply power under a 20 PPA, signed with Mexico’s federal power company. Martifer claims it is the first such contract between a private company and the Mexican state utility.

The project is funded by Nafin, a local development bank, the International Finance Corporation and Corporacion Aura Solar.

"Due to its dimension, this project in Mexico will open the way for the development of the photovoltaic sector in the country, where, to date, were installed 13 MW of PV projects," said Hector Olea, CEO of Gauss Energía, a local energy project developer, in a statement announcing the installation.

The installation will utilize 132,000 modules, on single-axis trackers and is scheduled to be completed in August of this year. Martifer Solar has been active in Mexico since 2011.

"The construction of the Latin America’s largest PV plant confirms our best expectations for 2013," said Martifer Solar CEO Henrique Rodrigues. "This is an emblematic project for Martifer Solar, in a region that, due to its irradiation characteristics, finds solar electricity as a viable and more competitive alternative, when compared with non-renewable energy sources. We consider Mexico as a key market in Martifer Solar’s internationalization strategy."

By contrast, German EPC and project developer Gehrlicher solar is a comparatively new arrival in Latin America. The firm today announced the opening of its new office in Mexico City.

"After a rapid and successful entry into the US marketplace in the last two years, we are confident our high performance and low cost EPC business model will add significant value to our business partners in the Mexican market," said Stefan Parhofer, Chief Executive Officer for Gehrlicher Solar America Corp. Gehrlicher is sponsoring the International Renewable Energy Congress in Mexico City, on May 29, to recognize its entry into the emerging market.