Brazil to hold first federal PV auction this year

Brazil looks set to hold its first federal energy auction specifically for solar PV later this year.

Altino Ventura Filho, secretary of Energy Planning and Development at Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy, announced the news at a local conference in the capital city of Brasilia last month.

According to Brazilian news portal Jornal da Energia, Ventura made the comment during a speech at the 1st National Forum on Infrastructure, which took place March 27-28, although he did not specify the date of the auction nor the capacity to be auctioned, Jornal da Energia reported.

The Ministry of Mines and Energy has yet to officially confirmed the news but it has referred to Ventura’s presentation, which it said highlighted the importance of diversification of renewable and other energy sources.

The Brazilian state of Pernambuco held the nation’s first ever auction aimed exclusively at solar PV energy projects in December 2013. The Pernambuco auction awarded a cumulative 122.82MW of photovoltaic power dispersed between six different projects and for an average BRL 229 (€103) per megawatt hour. Brazil has never held though a federal auction aiming exclusively at solar projects.

Auction prices are critical

Meanwhile, according to Reuters, André Pepitone, director of the National Electric Energy Agency (ANEEL), said last month that PV investors in the country would be able to participate in the next national energy auction, offering their projects at prices less than BRL 200 ($89) per megawatt hour. This, Pepitone said, would make photovoltaics competitive with other types of renewable energy.

Pepitone also added that PV developers had indicated that they would be able to deliver projects in about twelve months, thus enabling the electrification of about 1 GW per year. From a regulatory standpoint, Brazil is able to absorb that level of solar energy capacity, Pepitone added.

Pepitone discussed the issue with reporters during the Intelligent Networks Conference organized by the British Consulate in São Paulo in March.

While solar PV did participate in Brazil’s A-3 and A-5 federal energy auctions last year, it was unable to compete with the low costs of onshore wind, which received a total 4.7 GW of projects. Wind energy investors, however, have complained about the low auction prices (they bottomed at BRL 109 per megawatt hour) and the fact that a significant amount of capacity was lost due to a lack of grid connection.

These issues are also affecting the solar PV sector, but developers remain enthusiastic about Brazil’s steadily growing electricity demand and the saturation in the large hydro market, which currently covers about 80 percent of the national power needs.

Eletrosul measures south’s solar radiation

Eletrosul Centrais Elétricas, a subsidiary of the Brazilian power utility Eletrobras that operates in southern Brazil, has completed the installation of six solar radiation measurement units in the Brazilian states of Rio Grande do Sul, Mato Grosso do Sul and Rondônia.

Initially the company aims to assess the regions’ solar potential, with the data collection systems expected to provide enough data by the end of the month. Solar PV and CSP technical feasibility studies will follow.

Furthermore, Eletrosul is also currently deploying a 1 MW building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) project at its headquarters in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina. The 13.8 kV substation to connect the plant to the power grid is almost ready.

The company has also R&D experience relating to the purification of silicon and solar cell manufacturing.