Proposals totaling 166 MW submitted to Uruguay’s PV call for tender

A total of 166 MW in photovoltaic projects have been submitted to Uruguay’s state-owned utility National Administration of Power Plants and Electricity Transmission (UTE) as part of the 200 MW call for tender of photovoltaic at a maximum price of $91.50/MWh, which opened last week, according to UTE.

Three of the projects submitted have a capacity of 50 MW each while another project has 16 MW of capacity, according to local media. Investment for the projects is estimated at $300 million. Most of the solar parks will be located in the northwestern department of Salto.

In a statement issued last week, Uruguay’s government said it considers that the call for tender successful. Alone last Monday, the first day to submit proposals, three projects totalling 116 MW were presented. UTE expects the 200 MW cap to be covered.

Maximum price of $91.50/MWh

The decree 133/013, which was issued on May 2 by the Uruguayan government, set a maximum electricity purchase price of $91.50/MWh for plants between 5 and 50 MW in size that come online within the next year. For installations coming online from June 1, 2014, and before June 1, 2015, the maximum purchase price will be decreased to a price of $86.60/MWh. The program has a cap of 200 MW.

Power purchase agreements are expected to be agreed upon with UTE. They will last for 20 to 30 years.

Domestic content requirement

The Uruguayan government has said that 20% of the initial goods and services related to the PV plants must be domestically sourced. Acquiring or renting land for the solar parks won’t be recognized as national investment for the domestic content requirement nor will the maintenance of the parks, according to the decree.

"Due to the tight timing of the call for tender, a minimum of participation of the national part has been set at 20%, which means that this participation is available with the use of goods and services that are already available locally today," Wilson Sierra, the director of the Renewable Energy Area at the Ministry of Energy, told pv magazine.

Currently, there isn’t any solar module or photovoltaic inverter factory in Uruguay. However, Sierra said that if there is willingness to set up a solar cell or inverter factory in the country, there is a set of fiscal instruments that would support such an investment.

Bidding process for 6 MW

In addition to the 200 MW quota, another photovoltaic quota totaling 6 MW will be made available under which no electricity purchase price has been set. Rather, the generated electricity will be sold via a competitive bidding process.

According to the decree, the 6 MW quota will be separated into two categories: the first, with a total of 1 MW, will be available to installations at least 500 kW in size; the second 5 MW category will be for installations over 1 MW.

Photovoltaic is not very extended in Uruguay although a net-metering scheme was introduced in 2010. The largest photovoltaic installation in the country is a 500 kW pilot plant in Salto inaugurated last March. Another pilot plant is being built in Minas.