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Latin America Report: How Chile Is Shepherding Its Renewable Energy Expansion

Chile's renewable energy capacity soared 40 percent in 2013 to 1.1 GW, approximately 6.3 percent of total capacity in the central (SIC) and northern (SING) grids, according to figures from the Centro de Energías Renovables (CER) of the Ministerio de Energía. Renewable energy generation was just shy of 4 TWh, a 26 percent jump from the prior year and representing 5.85 percent of overall electricity generation.

With more than 10.1 GW in projects in the pipeline approved but not yet built, CER is launching new funding programs to help get more of them grid-connected, emphasizing 50-MW size ones and smaller. Among these plans: 1.3 billion pesos (U.S. $2.3 million) in funding to develop and finance grid-connected projects in the coming year, plus another 2.3 billion pesos ($4.1 million) for self-supplying renewable energy systems. CER and the German Development Bank (KfW) will launch a 330 million peso program (around $600,000) to help shepherd more of the projects within that vast pipeline. Also in March the CER is pledging 1 billion pesos ($1.8 million) to back engineering studies for projects in the pre-investment stage, and allocating 2.38 billion pesos ($4.3 million) to back smaller projects to develop renewable energy systems for self-consumption; an example is the nation's dairy sector, which seeks to develop more biogas options.

By the way, half of that Chilean renewables pipeline is in solar PV. Among the recent approvals granted by Chile's Environmental Evaluation Service (SEA), all in the Atacama region: a $57 million, 20-MW project from Central Solar Desierto I, a $100 million 50-MW project from Inca de Varas, and a $151 million 60-MW project from Valleland. Earlier in the month the SEA approved a $241 million 92-MW project by a SunEdison subsidiary in the northern region of Tarapaca.


IN THE NEWS

What's Holding Up Brazil's Wind Surge: Five years ago Brazil began auctioning power from wind farms, in a bid to embrace other renewable resources and reduce its heavy reliance on hydropower. Yet even as droughts now strain hydro dams, four dozen wind farms stand idle because they're months overdue to be grid-connected, meaning they're losing revenue by not selling to the spot market -- and consumers are still paying for the undelivered energy anyway because of guaranteed government contracts. Bloomberg's Christiana Sciaudone reports from Sao Paolo.

Mexico's First Solar Census: Mexico's National Association of Solar Energy (ANES) reportedly is planning the nation's first "solar census," taking an inventory of solar PV and thermal systems installed from 2011-2013 across all 32 states. Helping conduct the study will be the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), as well as several Mexican ministries and public bodies.

Financing for Wind Power in Honduras: Grupo Terra has received $127.5 million from five international lenders for its 50-MW San Marcos project, the nation's second biggest wind farm, now under construction and slated to come online in 2015. Participating in the loans are Dutch development bank FMO, Germany's KfW Group, France's Agence Francaise de Developpement, the OPEC Fund for International Development, and the World Bank's Interact Climate Change Facility. Meanwhile, Globeleq Mesoamérica Energy, meanwhile, has secured an $82.4 million investment guarantee from the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), the World Bank's political risk insurance and credit enhancement arm, for a 24-MW expansion of its 102-MW Cerro de Hula wind project south of Tegucigalpa, which is the nation's biggest wind farm.

Brazil Tweaks Wind Turbine Domestic Content Timeline: Brazil's National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES) says it is tacking on another six months to give wind turbine suppliers more time to have some of their components comply with domestic-content manufacturing requirements. The rules, first established in 2012, have given suppliers pause when evaluating the Brazilian wind market. Full nationalization of Brazilian-made wind turbines is still planned for January 2016.

Puerto Rico Adjusts Solar PV Contracts: Puerto Rico's Electric Power Authority has signed off on final power purchase agreements with six companies: Horizon (in Salinas), YFN Yabucoa Solar (Yabucoa), Oriana (Aguadilla), Solaner (San Germán), Grupotec (Hatillo), and Athens Solar (Manatee), all of which have needed permits and can begin projects immediately. Specific capacities were not included, but PREPA said they will bring the total renewable energy generation to 365 MW, out of a calculated grid maximum of 600 MW. These six were among a crop of 60 projects that were deemed necessary to renegotiate, and will now save about $63 million, according to PREPA.

Brazil's 2013 Renewables Tally, Still Mostly Hydro: Brazil's total installed power plant capacity in 2013 was 126.7 GW, roughly 64 percent of which was from large-scale hydropower(81 GW), according to figures from ANEEL. That included a record output of 98.63 TWh from the 14-GW Itaipu hydropower plant, the world's second biggest behind China's Three Gorges, which met nearly 17 percent of Brazil's overall demand and three quarters of Paraguay's demand. Small hydro contributed 3.6 percent (4.6 GW) and wind was 2.2 GW or 0.21 percent.

Globeq Adds Debt for Costa Rica Wind Farm: Globeq says it has agreed to $109 million in loans from the Netherlands Development Finance Company, the U.S. Export-Import Bank, and Banco Internacional de Costa Rica SA for its Orosi wind project.

Brazil Biomass Up For Sale: French company Louis Dreyfus reportedly will sell its share in Brazilian biomass subsidiary Biosev, valued at approximately 1 billion reais (U.S. $420 million), due to underperformance and inability to raise more funds, according to local paper Valor Economico. Biosev, Brazil's second-largest sugar and ethanol producer after Cosan, generates electricity by burning bagasse and sells it at 1 GW/hour of energy under long-term contracts of 140 reais/MWh, according to the reports.

Solar PPA for IPP UPower in Honduras: UPower says it has executed a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) for two 50-MW projects in Nacaome, Honduras, built by Wind Turbine and Energy Cables (WTEC).

Connecting Brazil's Belo Monte: This week a consortium of companies led by Furnas were chosen via auction for transmission interconnections in the states of Pará, Minas Gerais, Toncantins, and Goias -- including linking the 11-GW Belo Monte dam, also one of the world's biggest hydro facilities, which continues to be fraught with delays.

Enel Eyeing New PV Plants in Peru: Enel Green Power has received a thumbs-up from the Ministry of Energy and Mines to conduct feasibility studies on two 40-MW solar PV plants in Tacna.


A DEEPER LOOK

Storing Energy in Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico is now mandating energy storage as part of technical requirements for utility-scale solar PV systems, which will tack on an estimated 15 percent to upfront system costs. IHS' Sam Wilkinson weighs the benefits and drawbacks of the new mandatory requirements, which will contribute to an estimated 1.5 GW of storage by 2017.


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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

December 4-30, 2013: Latin America Report: Solar's Auction Debut in Brazil

November 22-December 4, 2013: Latin America Report: Gauging Mexico's Wind Energy Market

October 11-November 21, 2013: Latin America Report: Wind Sweeps Brazil's A-3 Power Auctions, Whither Solar?

August 1-September 11, 2013: Latin America Report: Chile's Road To Solar Grid Parity

Lead image: xxxxxxxxx, via Shutterstock

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