Brazil to include rooftop solar in low-income housing program “Minha Casa, Minha Vida”

Brazil’s Ministry of Cities announced it will support rooftop solar in the country’s »Minha Casa, Minha Vida« low-income housing program by issuing a decree by the end of this year.

The Minister of Cities, Bruno Araúj, said that this new measure, which was proposed by the local solar association ABSOLAR along with the industrial federation of the state of Sao Paulo Federação das Indústrias do Estado de São Paulo (FIESP), will create jobs and income and support the domestic industry, while ensuring the quality of the new houses.

“Solar energy,” said the president of ABSOLAR Rodrigo Sauaia, “ceased to be expensive, and it is now also accessible to households of all incomes. Low-income families may reduce their electricity bill by around 70% with only two solar modules and an inverter, thus becoming able to invest their savings in education, health and quality of life.”

In late 2012, the Brazilian government had officially recommended construction companies participating in the program to adopt rooftop PV solutions in new low-income housing projects. The program was previously open only to solar-thermal installations. This recommendation, however, has not produced the expected results, as the Ministry of Cities is now announcing it will issue a decree in order to make solar a real part of the program.

Brazil launched the “Minha Cada, Minha Vida” in 2009. At the time, the initiative had a budget of $17 billion and a target of constructing one million homes. In 2011, the government launched the second phase of the program, which had an expanded budget of around $50 billion and a target to build another two million homes by 2024.

Residential PV projects in Brazil have access to net metering and are granted a fiscal incentive. Specifically, the Tax on the Circulation of Goods and Services (ICMS) applies solely to the electricity received by the distributor and not compensated.