Latin American solar markets explode in 2014, 2015

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GTM Research has released its Q3 2014 Latin American PV Playbook, which predicts rapid growth in solar PV installations in the region in 2014 and 2015. This marks the beginning of Latin America becoming a globally significant PV market, on par with other regions.

Chile alone is expected to install 308 MW this year, and the nation has nearly 1 GW of solar projects under construction. However, GTM finds significant solar markets across Latin America.

This includes Mexico, which is poised to install 97 MW in 2014, and which GTM predicts will be the largest PV market in the region after 2015. Honduras is expected to install 72 MW of solar PV in 2014, Ecuador 64 MW, and Uruguay 59 MW.

Policy is also advancing in Latin America. During the third quarter of 2014 Mexico completed its energy reform legislation, which includes a number of electricity sector changes which are expected to boost the nation’s solar market. Additionally Brazilian development bank BNDES announced that it will provide funding to solar projects in the upcoming reserve auction, and Chile has finally enacted regulations for net metering.

SunEdison is currently ranked the top developer in the region, with 155 MW operational and 163 MW in a late-stage pipeline, however SunPower is the largest developer in Chile. GTM Research also notes that Enel Green Power has 169 MW of projects in late-stage pipeline in Latin America.

Just as U.S. developers are leading in the region, the U.S. government is a key player in financing the expansion of solar in the region. The U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is the most active debt investor in Chile’s solar market, with US$659 million invested in five projects.

However, this quarter CorpBanca became the first commercial bank to finance a large-scale PV project in the region, providing $39 million for SunEdison’s Maria Elena project. Finance has been a key barrier to the development of utility-scale solar in the region, and GTM Research Solar Analyst Adam James, the report’s author, says this move is significant.

“Development banks have been providing all of the finance up to this point, and we’ve been saying for a while that commercial banks are going to step up. This is the first time that this has happened.”