Solar installed capacity in Brazil is expected to close the year close to 2.5 gigawatts, a jump of about 115 percent from the 1.15 gigawatt mark at the end of 2017, the Brazilian Association of Photovoltaic Solar Energy (Absolar).
The boost to the source, which despite a huge potential represents only 0.8 per cent of the country’s capacity, dominated by hydroelectric and with increasing participation of thermals and wind, must come from both the construction of large photovoltaic parks and smaller facilities, in roofs.
These smaller systems, known as distributed generation, are expected to grow at a slightly faster pace than the capacity of large plants in 2018, according to Absolar, which sees the country close the year with 410 megawatts of distributed, high solar energy of 124 percent compared to 2017.
The large solar plants are expected to add 2.06 gigawatts by the end of the year, an expansion of 114 percent, according to the association, which presented its updated forecasts at an industry conference in São Paulo.
The main factors that have driven the rapid growth of small solar power plants in homes, businesses and industries are the rise in energy tariffs in recent years and the significant drop in prices of generation equipment, most imported from China.
Cost in Brazil of a system of up to 5 kilowatts-peak fell almost 30 percent between 2013 and 2017, according to a survey by Instituto Ideal, Federal University of Santa Catarina.
According to the director of energy studies of the state-owned Energy Research Company (EPE), Amílcar Guerreiro, solar expansion has at its disposal in the country a universe of about 50.7 million residences – in a conservative projection, not counting buildings – or 3.9 billion square feet of roofs that can be covered by photovoltaic panels.
That would be sufficient to produce energy equivalent to twice the current residential consumption in the country.
He estimated, however, that distributed generation as a whole in Brazil, including a smaller share of other sources, should reach about 3 percent of total energy generation by 2027.
Despite the small final share, this would represent an average growth of 143 percent per year in technology.
Growth potential of solar generation in Brazil has attracted large international suppliers in the segment. Chinese BYD and Canadian Canadian Solar have opened local factories, while manufacturers such as China’s Trina Solar, JA Solar, Yingli Solar and others have opened offices in the country to import equipment.