Enel works on addition to Latin America’s self-styled largest PV project

Aug 22, 2019 10:32 PM ET
Enel works on addition to Latin America’s self-styled largest PV project
Image credit: Enel
Enel has hit yet another deployment milestone with what it bills as Latin America’s biggest solar plant under construction, a project it is building in Brazil’s northeast.

The firm said this week it has broken ground on a 133MW extension to its São Gonçalo solar scheme in the Piauí state, one of a growing number worldwide embracing bifacial technology.

The 133MW push, financed by Enel’s investment of around BRL422 million (US$105 million), comes to join a 475MW first batch the firm started deploying in October 2018.

The overall 608MW solar complex, meant to come online in 2020, will sell its output via arrangements structured on Brazil’s regulated but also unregulated market.

According to Enel, 265MW of the 608MW total is contracted to a pool of distribution firms, via 20-year PPAs Enel won at Brazil’s renewable auction of December 2017.

Meanwhile, the remaining 343MW will be directly supplied to corporates, in deals negotiated outside of government tenders.

Once it is up and running in its entirety, São Gonçalo is meant to supply an annual 1.5TWh of PV power and slash CO2 emissions by 860,000 tonnes, according to Enel.

Bullish Brazil turns to bifacial

São Gonçalo sees Enel join the list of players coming on board bifacial solar worldwide, with Middle East projects making headway with support from development financiers.

The Brazilian facility will feature SF7 bifacial trackers supplied by Spain-headquartered Soltec. The deal, inked in June, is reportedly Soltec’s largest so far in the Latin American state.

Construction progress at the 608MW complex in Piauí emerges at a propitious time for Brazilian PV more broadly, with utility-scale milestones adding growth to a 2GW-plus ecosystem.

Record-low auction prices and government-sponsored PV schemes have helped push the state, Latin America’s largest economy and energy market, into the global industry spotlight.

As PV Tech found while researching a soon-to-be published feature, funding remains the chief hurdle for projects in the country, with currency volatility complicating the addition of foreign financiers.  

As local experts have explained to this publication, some projects are trying to achieve revenue certainty by following the dual approach of Enel’s São Gonçalo, with supply split between government auction contracts and direct deals with corporate buyers.

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