Powerchina plans to invest in solar in Brazilian state of Mato Grosso

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The government of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso has announced that Sepco1 Construções do Brasil Ltda, which is a unit of Chinese hydropower, thermal power, renewable energy and infrastructure developer, Powerchina, is planning to build an unspecified number of large-scale solar power plants across the region over the coming years.

The unit of the Chinese group, which is already based in Vera, in the north of the state – where it is already building a transmission line connecting the towns of Cláudia and Paranatinga – aims to invest around 1 billion BRL ($307 million) in its first solar park in the state, the government stressed in its press release. More technical and financial details about the projects were not provided.

The governor of Mato Grosso, Pedro Taques stressed, however, that different Chinese companies are planning to invest around 5 billion BRL (around $1.5 billion) in solar and biomass projects in the state over the next five years.

One of these is CED Prometheus, which in early February signed agreement with Taques to build another $300 million PV project in the prefecture of Chapada dos Guimarães. The project intends to provide  power to the local industry, the state government said at the time, without specifying if it will participate in auctions, or sell electricity through private PPAs – an option that is still considered unviable by the Brazilian solar sector.

According to Rodrigo Sauaia, the president of Brazilian solar association AB Solar, there are still two main challenges in the private solar PPA segment: direct competition with projects from other sources, such as old and already amortized hydroelectric plants, which can offer more competitive prices; and the difficulty of finding financing for PPPs, whose deadlines in Brazil vary between two and five years.

This period of time is extremely short for the investment cycle of a PV plant.