Latin America records biggest utility-solar quarter

Recording its most successful quarter to date, Latin America saw 363 MW of utility-scale solar PV installed in the second quarter of 2015, up from 207 MW in Q1, according to GTM Research’s Latin America PV Playbook.

Boosted by its 10% bonus tariff, Honduras led the charge, with 307 MW installed across seven projects, and is expected to usurp Mexico as the second largest solar market in Latin America this year.

Chile, usually the solar leader in the region, added just 29 MW, while Panama followed with 12 MW and Brazil at 11 MW. Both Venezuela and Antigua also saw their first utility-scale PV plants grid connected.

Boasting another record, Q2 saw 981 MW of new construction starts, up 61% YOY. While Chile will see the lion’s share, Mexico will install 54 MW and Jamaica 20 MW.

Although utility-scale solar will comprise 92% of the 2.3 GW of solar expected in 2015 in Latin America – At 1 GW, Chile is set to install almost half of this, see table below – GTM Research notes that commercial and industrial projects also represent "interesting opportunities," with installations forecast to reach 2.6 GW by 2020.

2014

2015

Chile

493 MW

Chile

1 GW

Mexico

67 MW

Honduras

460 MW

Brazil

22 MW

Mexico

195 MW

Guatemala

6 MW

Guatemala

98 MW

Honduras

5 MW

Panama

62 MW

"Commercial users tend to pay the highest retail electricity rates in almost every Latin American country," comments senior solar analyst, Adam James. "With its attractive prices and easier access to capital, the market will grow quickly from its small base today."

Due to high solar irradiation and growing demand, the research company predicts that Latin America will become "one of the most attractive regions on the planet" for solar. It currently has a solar pipeline totaling 34 GW, comprising 25 GW of announced projects, 6.8 GW of contracted projects, 1.9 GW under construction and 943 MW operational.