With a series of announcements promising to bring solar cell manufacturing to Latin America having been made this decade, none of the promised factories has so far materialized.
This time it is the turn of Brazilian module manufacturer Grupo Balfar Indústria Fotoelétrica/AS – based in Paranavaí, in the state of Paraná – which has unveiled a plan to invest BRL2 billion ($540 million) in cell production in the state of Tocantins, in the centre of the country.
In a press release, the government of Tocantins said the project is receiving the support of the local ministry of environment, the Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Hídricos. “The production may be installed in the second semester of 2019 at a location which still must be identified, with the expectation of generating close to a thousand jobs,” said a government statement with a series of caveats that perhaps acknowledges previous false dawns.
The president of Balfar Solar, Antonio de Paula Barbara, has signed a letter of intent for the project with the environmental secretary of Tocantins, Leonardo Cintra, which also said the company analyzed the incentives offered by the local government through its ‘state policy of incentive to the generation and the use of solar energy’. Under the policy, Tocantins grants tax benefits for the development of a PV supply chain, including exemption from Brazil’s ICMS sales and services tax of 18% until 2021 for the purchase of equipment, components and materials for the installation of solar power generators.
Balfar Solar is among the Brazilian PV manufacturers pv magazine included in its market survey on the solar panel manufacturing industry in Latin America, published last summer.
Another project to bring solar cell production to Brazil concerns vertically integrated 1.7 GW PV module factory the Green Silicon plant. In that case, production would cover the entire value chain – from the manufacture of silicon to modules – and would be next to an hydroelectric power plant that has the highest annual energy production in the world, the dam Itaipú in Paraná, near the border with Paraguay.