Latin America: 4 GW of PV in 2017

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Vista aérea El Romero Solar/El Romero Solar aerial view. Foto/Phot: Acciona

Following up on the region’s impressive growth in 2015, Latin America is set for an encore, with an expected 1.8 GW additional capacity installed in 2016, reaching over 4 GW cumulative capacity. In 2017, the region will double that total. From a global perspective, Latin America is expected to significantly increase its global share of yearly PV demand. The region is expected to take 3.4% of the global demand share in 2016 but significantly increase these numbers in 2017 and 2018 as auctioned projects continue to get completed.

Major markets Chile and Mexico each had auctions which solar was a key part of, and emerging player Argentina has had an impressive breakout year in 2016 pushing its growth even higher.

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Argentina’s auction clears the way for over 300 MW of PV to contract through the RenovAR program. Outside of the auction scheme, international interests are looking at ways in which to develop projects to fulfill clean energy goals. Funding for projects were previously seen to be a barrier but national and regional development banks have established lines of credit as project risk in Argentina has been decreased by Fitch.

Following Peru’s March auction in which two PV projects won bids, at least one contract has been signed and additional auctions are being planned. Colombia C&I market sees movement as private offtakers are needed in a country where there is no state-owned utility. Additionally smaller projects less than 20MW are given priority access to interconnection.

Utility-scale is the leading segment in Brazil, Chile, and Mexico where solar is beating out prices for other technologies, and capturing much more of the market share for non-conventional renewables.

Auction-led demand dominates the utility-scale segment as well as the overall market. The Latin American PV markets are largely unsubsidized and as a result, the ministries of energies call for energy supply auctions to develop the prospects for clean energy. In Q3, Chile set a record low for PV price/MWh in the world in its August auction and Mexico tendered 2.4 GW of PV capacity, expecting to deliver onto the grid in the next few years. All PPA prices for these utility-scale auctions have trended downward in recent years firmly falling in line with recent global auctions. Moving forward, Brazil expects to hold a clean energy auction in December after it canceled a previous tender in August, and Argentina continues to build out its PV demand through auctions. The prospect of direct PPAs between offtakers and utility-scale generators also exists.