Sunburst: August 2019

Brazil’s Solar Markets are Attracting Strong International Attention


According to the Solar Power Europe (SPE) Global Market Outlook (GMO) 2019 Brazil has the 11th strongest PV market of any country in the world. Although total PV capacity was just 2.346 GW for this country of roughly 200 million people at the end of 2018, the GMO estimates that over 10 GW of new capacity will be added by 2023, representing an annual growth rate of 40%.


There are four major markets in Brazil: the auction market, which has been quite active since 2013, the open or “liberal” utility-scale market, the distributed rooftop solar market, and the off-grid rural electrification market. These booming solar markets were in clear evidence at the Intersolar South America (ISSA) 2019, held at the Expo Center Norte in Sao Paulo on 27-29 August, and the status and trends of these markets were given close examination at the Conference held in parallel to the Exhibition.


I was an invited speaker to one of the conference sessions: The International Solar PV Landscape – Markets Around the World, where I talked about the U.S. Solar PV market. I also organized a session on Progress and Challenges Towards Achieving 100% Renewable Energy in South America. Since I was also a member of the Conference Committee, which was chaired by Dr. Rodrigo Lopes Sauaia, the Executive President of Brazil’s major solar industry association, ABSOLAR, I had complete access to all the conference program as well as the immense Exhibition halls during the entire event.


Because ABSOLAR was the Premium Partner and Content Provider of the Conference, Rodrigo was very prominent on many of the panels, including the two in which I was involved. In his talks, he emphasized the booming solar business taking place in Brazil. He brought in many speakers to discuss the details of the opportunities and challenges in these solar markets. For example, although Federal auctions remain important in lowering the overall costs of solar electricity, and will continue in the near future, the utility scale free market represents about ¼ of all the solar market in the country at present and is expected to grow. The market for isolated off-grid systems is small, only about 5%, and is largely focused in the Amazon region. There is major emphasis in the rooftop distributed generation (DG) market, with many conference sessions addressing the challenges facing this sector, such as in financing, interconnection regulations, and billing issues. Although net metering was established in Brazil seven years ago, these issues continue to hamper the many businesses that have been established in Brazil to support the DG sector, and the thousands of consumers owning or planning to purchase rooftop solar systems. There are clear expectations that the new government will take aggressive steps to make these markets more liberal to encourage their growth.


Rodrigo and I both are Board members of the Global Solar Council, and we both gave talks at the session on 100% Renewables. We were joined on this panel by another GSC board member, Marcelo Alvarez, who is the President of CADER – the Argentina Council for Renewable Energy.  Rounding out our panel was Dr. Ricardo Ruther of the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC), and also the ISES Solar World Congress Technical Committee co-chair and current president of the Brazilian Association of Solar Energy (ABENS), the ISES Section in Brazil, and Gonzalo Ramírez, the Research Line Leader for PV Systems at Fraunhofer Chile. Gonzalo was a last-minute fill-in for Roberto Román, the SWC219 Congress Co-Chair, who had to cancel his trip just before the start of ISSA 2019. Our talks provided an opportunity to preview the kind of discussions that will be held at the ISES SWC2019 in Santiago, Chile on 4-7 November. Coincidentally, our panel was held on the same day that climate activist Greta Thunberg arrived in New York on the Malizia to attend the UN Climate Conference scheduled for 23 September.


ABENS held a side meeting of their leadership team, which besides Ricardo included Vice President Marcelo Pinho, who is also a member of the ISES Board, 1st Secretary Dr. Dr. Lucas Rafael do Nascimento of UFSC, 2nd Secretary Prof. Dr. Izete Zanesco, and 1st Treasurer Eng. Aline Kirsten Vidal de Oliveira, also of UFSC. Here I learned about their plans for the next ABENS Conference, CBENS, to be held in Fortaleza on 1-5 June 2020. There was also a discussion of a Women in Solar Energy event held this past 5 June, organized by ABENS, with over 60 attendees, including ISES Board Member Christine Lins (via Skype). This event was inspired by the ISES Webinar “Powering Renewables:  Women in Solar Energy II”, held on 12 February 2019.


On 26 August I attended the Solar Business Club Summit and Gala Dinner “From Billion$ to Trillion$:  Financing CleanTech Disruption” at the Palacio Tangará, organized by Tomasz Slusarz, CEO and Founder of the Solar Business Group, and Leonardo Curioni, Founder and CEO of SICES Solar. Here we heard a number of excellent talks and panel discussions on the challenges and opportunities for significantly scaling up financing for solar and other clean tech programs in the Latin American region.


ISES, especially through its Section ABENS, had significant visibility at all of these events last week. We would like to thank Frank Haugwitz of Solar Promotions GmbH and all the other organizers for supporting our participation in the various events.

This article was written by:

Dr. David Renné

ISES Immediate Past President