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Latin America Report: Emerging Markets Are Hot Spots for Solar Development

At Solar Power International 2012 in Orlando, Fla., panelists from the Outbound from America to Latin America session sat down to continue the conversation in the Solar Central booth on the show floor. Watch the entire discussion on video below.

Latin America holds huge potential for solar energy due to its high electricity prices, blooming middle class and vast solar resources. The panel discusses a range of topics from hot markets to financing opportunities. Below are some notable quotes from the discussion:

“We have always seen more opportunity in emerging regions just because there is a lot going on in areas that have not been covered compared to developed markets. It is interesting to watch these Latin American markets grow because they are not being driven by incentives like feed-in tariffs or grants. They are being driven by high insolation and high electricity prices, and when you put those two things together you can really make some good returns on solar PV and it makes it a really economic solution.” Michael Barker, NPD Solarbuzz 

“The greatest opportunity is for companies that start financing their solar projects. In Mexico people do not want to invest in their own systems. The deal now is to find financing or leasing options, which will bring the product to the market faster.” Luis Cejudo, SolarNgreen 

“The Caribbean has a lot of potential and Chile has a lot of buzz with a multi-gigawatt pipeline going in right now. But even the markets that people aren’t talking about as much [have huge potential]: Brazil and Mexico have burgeoning GDPs and a growing middle class, high electricity prices, and a real need to cut down on those things.” Michael Barker, NPD Solarbuzz 

“Brazil has a very well-developed financial market. What needs to happen for good financing is that the solar companies need to be more active in teaching the financial institutions how to do it. We still have high rates but I think because solar is predictable in terms of generaotion it is a good investment for those institutions. As soon as the industry grows a bit more it will be easier for them to track its record and they will invest in solar, too.” Jose Colaferro, Blue Sol Solar Energy 

“Local banks are afraid at the beginning, but they will provide extended terms to people that they trust. To others, they have enough financial guarantees so that they can work out some extended payment terms.” Elias Behar, SolarWorld Americas

“In the next 5-10 years Mexico will have solar gardens — an area of land filled out with multiple arrays. From 5-10 years I believe Mexico will have the ability and legislation that it will be a feasible project, and we'll be able to use that electricity in other states. We have one utility company so you would be able to use solar electricity from the state of Sonora to the state of Veracruz — far away.”  Carlos Flores, Conermex


IN THE NEWS

Costa Rica Promotes Geothermal to Offset Fluctuations in Rainfall: Hydropower accounts for about 78 percent of Costa Rica’s electricity, but an unstable rainy season has affected hydro production. The government is looking to develop geothermal projects, and other renewables, to steady the power load and help combat climate change. According to recent studies, Costa Rica has nine viable areas for geothermal development with the potential to produce up to 1,100 megawatts.

Brazil Doubling Sugar-Cane Biomass Research Plan to $988 Million: Brazil's national development bank (BNDES) and research-financing agency Finep have nearly doubled their original investment to $998 million for biomass research ventures through 2014. Dow Chemical and DuPont are among several companies that have passed initial approval to move ahead with research. 

IDB Approves $76 Million Loan to Finance 74-MW Wind Farm in Mexico's Oaxaca: Mexico plans to take advantage of the "La Ventosa" region of Oaxaca, which has some of the best wind resources in the world. With 37 turbines, the Bii Nee Stipa II is expected to produce 278 GWh annually. 


ON THE HORIZON

Brazil Pinning Economic Recovery on Tax Reforms: Brazil hopes to spark its economy by reducing power rates as much as 16.2 percent through lowering utility production costs by up to 28 percent. In order to achieve these reductions, officials hope to renew 73 power concessions that are set to expire between 2015 and 2017, which are equivalent to about 22 megawatts of power generation, 85,000 km of transmission lines, and 35 percent of consumer market distributors. 

LAP Weighs Chile IPO to Raise $400 Million for Wind Farms: Latin America Power is considering an initial public offering to raise $400 million for wind projects and hydroelectric dams in Chile, Peru, and Panama. It plans to generate 1 gigawatt of power with the projects, and hopes to come to the aid of the electricity-strained countries. 

Montserrat Initiates Environmental Assessment for Geothermal Project: The government of the Caribbean island of Montserrat has invited Atom Solutions to conduct an “environmental and social impact assessment” for the development of geothermal energy on the island. Drilling will take about four months while an impact assessment lasts three weeks. Officials will decide how to move forward after this time period. 


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