Author: PV-Tech

Spain’s Grenergy enlists top banks for 103MW bifacial PV push in Chile

Some of Chile’s largest banks have rallied behind a bifacial solar project in the Atacama Desert, already being built at one of the world’s driest inhabited locations.

Madrid-based developer Grenergy said this week it has lined up US$71 million from four financial institutions to bankroll a 103MW project near the Quillagua oasis, in north Chile.

Banco Security, Banco del Estado de Chile and Penta Vida Compañía de Seguros de Vida will each supply one third of a US$60.3 million senior debt facility, structured against a 17-year timeframe.

Meanwhile, a further US$11 million will come in the form of mezzanine credit from Sinia Renovables, an energy investment entity owned by Spain’s Banco Sabadell.

The funding package has been secured with the 103MW project already under construction. Under Grenergy’s timetable, the plant should be linked to the grid by Q3 2020.

The Quillagua project will require US$97.5 million in overall investment. Once up and running, the 301GWh-a-year plant is expected by Grenergy to produce annual revenues of US$14 million.

The installation, Grenergy explained, will be bifacial-powered. According to the firm’s estimates, the use of two-sided modules will boost power output by up to 15%.

The firm also touted the solar potential of its project location choice, a spot widely seen as one of the world’s driest. In Quillagua, Grenergy noted, irradiation nears 3,000 net hours a year.

Bifacial plays into the world’s top irradiation hotspot

According to Grenergy, the Quillagua 103MW solar project is the largest it has ever undertaken worldwide. It is not, however, its first PV venture in Chile, a country it sees as “strategic”.

The Madrid-listed firm claims to have linked more PV plants (25) to Chile’s grid than anyone else. A few weeks back, it opened a new base in the country to oversee Latin American plays.

The group – which recently made its green bond debut – owns 1.937GW worth of solar projects at various stages in Chile, followed by 980MW in Spain, 458MW in Colombia and others.

The firm’s 103MW new push brings another solar newcomer to the Atacama Desert, seen by researchers as home to the highest long-term solar irradiation levels in the entire planet.

This year alone, strides have been made by projects by Mainstream (145MW), Sonnedix (171MW), Valhalla (561MW) and Google, which will be the offtaker of a 125MW hybrid.

Much like Grenergy, Enel is amongst those tapping into bifacial’s potentially higher yields to make the most of Atacama’s solar resource, with a 382MW plant under construction since August.

The gradual spread of bifacial modules comes as the dedicated exports by Chinese manufacturers into one of the world’s top markets become mired in geopolitics.

The US decision to spare bifacial modules from Section 201 import tariffs, to then backtrack but see its u-turn blocked by the courts, have cast doubts on the long-term access bifacial will enjoy.    

The prospects and challenges of Latin American solar and storage will take centre stage at Solar Media’s Energy Storage Latin America, to be held in Colombia on 28-29 April 2020.

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Finance a-listers back Mainstream’s 1.3GW clean energy push in Chile

Finance heavyweights have come together to bankroll a major clean energy push by Mainstream Renewable Power in Chile, including a solar project in the Atacama Desert.

CaixaBank, DNB, KfW IPEXBank, Natixis, SMBC, Societe Generale and Banco Santander were revealed this week as the backers of Andes Renovables, Mainstream’s wind and PV platform for Chile.

In a statement on Tuesday, Mainstream explained the first six banks pumped US$580 million in debt into the platform’s first phase, dubbed ‘Cóndor’, while Santander provided a separate VAT facility.

Andes Renovables plans to deploy 1.3GW of renewables overall, 350MW of it in the form of solar projects. The 1.3GW are wholly contracted and will be fully owned by Mainstream.

Under the 571MW Cóndor first stage, the firm will develop three wind plants – a 426MW batch all in all – together with a 145MW solar farm in Chile.

The first solar project, named Río Escondido, is planned for development in Chile’s Atacama region and has been contracted to EPC firm Sterling & Wilson.

The solar plant and the wind trio will feature ABB power transformers. All four installations are already under construction and should hit commercial operation by 2021.

Mainstream’s plans to deploy a further 730MW throughout the platform’s second and third phases, 205MW of it via two solar plants. All should go live between 2021 and 2022.

In Mainstream’s statement on Tuesday, chief executive Andy Kinsella explained the entire 1.3GW clean energy push will require around US$1.7 billion in total investment.

“Today’s announcement will be closely followed by the financial close and start of construction at the second and third phases of Andes Renovables in the coming months,” Kinsella commented.

Mainstream’s work brings yet more utility-scale solar momentum to Chile, which has witnessed a surge of developments in the Atacama Desert, to the north of the country.

Firm targeting the area – seen as a global irradiation hotspot – include Sonnedix (171MW), Enel (382MW), Valhalla (561MW) and Google, the offtaker for a 125MW hybrid.

The prospects and challenges of Latin American solar and storage will take centre stage at Solar Media’s Energy Storage Latin America, to be held in Colombia on 28-29 April 2020.

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Brazilian PV outcompetes all in auction debut alongside non-renewables

A bullish Brazilian PV market has marked its latest milestone this year, becoming the cheapest electricity source of an auction it was allowed to enter for the first time this month.

Solar players bagged together 530MW in contracts of the 2.979GW awarded at Brazil’s so-called new generation auction in October, which was open to both renewables and non-renewables.

The A-6 tender, held to cover the energy needs of a pool of distribution companies, also assigned capacity to wind (1.04GW), hydro (445MW), biomass (229.62MW) and natural gas (734.13MW).

At average tariffs of BRL84.39/MWh (around US$20.5/MWh), the 11 PV project winners outcompeted their wind counterparts, whose contracts came in at BRL98.89/MWh (US$24.01/MWh).

Allowed to table bids for the first time, solar firms also scored lower tariffs than natural gas thermal, biomass thermal and hydro power, which all produced prices in the BRL150-230/MWh region.

20-year deals for PV plants to begin supply in 2025

The 530MW in auction support reaped by solar was but a minimal share of the whopping 29.7GW of bids requested by the industry in June, with only 11 projects prevailing out of 825 applicants.

The 11 solar winners are all projects in Brazil’s northeast – seen by researchers as the country’s irradiation hotspot – and were all contracted at tariffs between BRL84 and BRL85/MWh.

The charts released by state auction organiser CCEE last Friday showed auction contracts were granted to four PV schemes of 75MW each – Graviola 1 to 4 – in the Piauí state.

Meanwhile, a further four known as Gameleira 1 to 4 secured support for as many 30MW-sized plants. The list of 11 PV winners was rounded off by additional projects of 60MW, 30MW and 20MW.

The solar contract holders will now have six years to ensure projects are deployed and pumping energy into the grid, with the 20-year supply deals set to cover the 2025-2044 period

Brazil’s PV eyes growth with government blessing

The A-6 average solar tariffs of BRL84.39/MWh are not only far below the BRL209/MWh ceiling prices the industry began the tender with; they also place it near its own records in Brazil.

At a separate renewable auction in late June – known as A-4 – solar contracts came in at an average BRL67.48/MWh (around US$17.5/MWh), a figure hailed as a milestone for clean energy worldwide.

Brazilian PV’s global tariff record appears to have been short-lived, with lower prices reported afterwards around auction schemes in Portugal (US$16.44/MWh) and Dubai (US$16.953/MWh).

The cost breakthroughs find Brazilian PV at a buoyant phase. Installed capacity doubled to 2GW-plus in 2018, followed by progress this year with major schemes including Enel’s 608MW São Gonçalo.

Speaking for a recent PV Tech Power feature, Brazilian operators said cost-competitiveness had been the key factor prompting the government’s decision to include solar in the A-4 auction scheme.

The feature examining the opportunities and risks of Brazilian and Mexican PV was part of PV Tech Power’s Volume 20, which you can subscribe to here

The prospects and challenges of Latin American solar and storage will take centre stage at Solar Media’s Energy Storage Latin America, to be held in Colombia on 28-29 April 2020.

Read the entire story

Construction underway for Panama’s self-styled largest solar plant

The utility-scale solar momentum slowly coursing through Latin America looks set to extend to one of the region’s smallest countries, with a large project now progressing through construction.

Inelsa, an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) group headquartered in Spain, is now working to deploy a 150MW PV installation in Panamá.

According to the firm, the solar plant will boast some 450,000 modules rolled out across a 300-hectare site, generating enough power to sustain 160,000 average households.

In statements echoed by Spanish media, Inelsa boss Manuel Domínguez said the numbers make the solar project the largest witnessed to date in Panamá.

According to IRENA, the four-million-inhabitant country was home to an estimated 165MW in installed PV capacity as of December 2019.

The PV project roster reaching completion to date includes Solarcentury’s 9.9MW Divisa Solar, completed in early 2016 with funding from the Inter-American Development Bank.

Another key name so far in Panaman solar is Enel, who currently runs the up-and-running 12MW Chiriqui plant in the country’s west and a larger 42MW batch nearer the Panama Canal.  

The 42MW PV complex – with plants of 5MW, 8MW, 11MW, 10MW and 8MW – was completed in 2017 after investments of US$55 million and is now supplying Enel’s Fortuna hydro power plant.

Elsewhere in Panama, Spanish group Gransolar announced in 2019 it had finished deploying a 40MW solar portfolio, with four 10MW plants powered up near the city of David.

Panama – which draws almost half of its revenues from its interoceanic canal, completed in 2017 – expects PV, wind and hydro to account for a joint 77% of installed capacity by 2050.

Last May, IRENA warned the country would need to revamp its regulatory framework to reach the clean energy goalpost, including changes to how PV and wind are remunerated under PPAs.

For Inelsa, the work in Panama adds to the 2GW energy portfolio it claims to have deployed worldwide, with PV and concentrated solar plants delivered in Europe, America and the Middle East.

The prospects and challenges of Latin American solar and storage will take centre stage at Solar Media’s Energy Storage Latin America, to be held in Colombia on 28-29 April 2020.

Read the entire story

Cubico, Celsia team up to bring large-scale PV boost to Colombia

Colombia’s still-dormant solar scene is poised for a major boost under a new partnership, bringing together a European and a Latin American player.

Cubico Sustainable Investments and Celsia this week unveiled plans to deploy a 400MW PV pipeline nation-wide, a significant push for a country where installed capacity sat in the double-digit-megawatt region last year.

In a statement, the duo said the 400MW portfolio will be developed over the next two years. According to them, it will mark the Colombian debut for London-headquartered Cubico, which has now added a Bogotá office to existing bases in Europe, Oceania, the US, Brazil, Mexico and others.

Contacted by PV Tech, Cubico said the 400MW pipeline comprises ground-mounted projects at various stages, with all “certain” to be ready-to-build soon. The plan is to deploy PV plants of “all sizes”, starting with an initial pipeline of five to 10 projects, the investor added.

According to the firm, both Cubico and Celsia will be “partners at all levels” and wholly finance the 400MW portfolio by themselves, with equity funding set to reach “at least” US$100 million. Construction will be taken care of by an external EPC contractor, Cubico told this publication.

For Cubico – which draws funds from Canadian pension groups OTPP and PSP to invest in global renewable plays – the Colombian move follows the completion of 350MWp Soles in Mexico, one of the top solar winners years ago of the country’s now-paralysed auction programme.

Colombia plays PV catch-up as it vows to lead Latin American push

The new partnership is the latest utility-scale PV proposition to see the light in Colombia this year, heralding a major solar boost for a country that was home to a 84MW market in 2018 where Brazil hosted 2.29GW and Mexico boasted 2.54GW.

So far in 2019, the Andean state has marked the operational launch of its largest PV plant to date – Enel’s 86.2MW El Paso – and the proposal of even bulkier successors, including Diverxia’s 240MWp Atlántico Photovoltaic and a 100.5MW project in the country’s northeast.

One of the two proponents of the new 400MW pipeline, Celsia styles itself as the developer of Colombia’s first large-scale plants, twin 9.9MW arrays in Cali and Cartagena. A third 9.9MW PV project is understood to be under construction, followed by a further two developments.

A PV Tech Power feature explored this year Colombia’s quest to kickstart renewable growth, a push meant to diversify a hydro-reliant, drought-vulnerable energy mix. As recently reported, current president Iván Duque is keen for the country to lead a Latin American clean energy push.

The country stands now only days from its first ever large-scale renewable auction. Acciona, Canadian Solar, EDF, Enel Green Power and Trina Solar have all put projects forward for the delayed tender, which will match developers with buyers for 15-year contracts.

Colombia is also thought to hold significant potential on the small-scale PV end. As Celsia explained to PV Tech earlier this year, the firm is amongst those with ambitions in the segment, with plans to deploy a 100MW small-scale portfolio of rooftop arrays and others.

The feature examining the opportunities and risks of Colombian PV was part of PV Tech Power’s Volume 19, which you can subscribe to here

The prospects and challenges of Latin American solar and storage will take centre stage at Solar Media’s Energy Storage Latin America, to be held in Colombia on 28-29 April 2020.

Read the entire story

Argentina stakes claim to Latin American PV crown with 300MW launch

Argentina has staked a claim to Latin American solar records after wrapping up the extension of a complex that could reach gigawatt-scale proportions within 10 years.

President Eduardo Macri was amongst those hailing this week the completion of the second and third 100MW phases of Cauchari in the Jujuy province, bringing the overall complex to 300MW.

The construction milestone means one-million-plus PV panels have now been installed at the site in Argentina’s semi-arid northwest, at more than 4,000 metres above sea level.

The complex, featuring so far Cauchari I, II and III, is being delivered by a partnership between Jujuy utility Jemse and Chinese players Shanghai Electric and Power China.

Addressing the Argentinian and Chinese officials onsite via videoconference, president Macri congratulated Jujuy governor Gerardo Morales for his work liaising with the Chinese partners.

“All those trips to China … it was worth it because you fostered trust in Chinese investors so that they would support this PV park, Latin America’s largest,” the president said this week. 

 “This is only the beginning as extensions will be coming,” Macri went on to say. “Jujuy’s solar irradiation potential is almost infinite, a gift from God we will be turning into jobs for Jujuy.”

The project’s sponsors estimate 1,200 jobs were created to build what now stands of Cauchari, with 60% of the employees sourced from local communities.

Jujuy’s 3GW-in-a-decade solar ambitions

At earlier joint press conferences months ago, president Macri and governor Morales had already anticipated additions to Cauchari beyond the first 300MW.

In mid-March, Morales had explained expansions should see 500MW attained by the end of 2020, coupled with a 96MW add-on that is being overseen by Jujuy power distributor Ejesa.

At this week’s Cauchari II and III opening ceremony, Jujuy’s governor predicted however a far more ambitious growth roadmap, which could see the province deliver 3GW of PV output in a decade.  

“The idea is to continue now with Cauchari IV and V,” Morales explained this week. “We’re finalising the PPA with the Energy Ministry, where we will soon agree on a tariff.”

A promotional video from Jujuy authorities said the Cauchari complex is now expected to generate 800GWh in clean energy output, with tariffs of US$60/MWh applying to the initial 300MW.

The Cauchari installations built to date were backed by the first round of auction programme RenovAr in 2016 and an oversubscribed US$210 million green bond.

At 85% of overall financing, the bulk of the funding was provided however by the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM), which awarded loans at interest rates of 3%.

As noted by governor Morales this week, Cauchari has not required funding from Argentina’s budget so far and is expected to be generating revenues of US$900 million in 15 years’ time.

Argentina’s claim to the Latin American PV crown comes as similarly large solar ventures make headway elsewhere, including in Brazil (608MW), Chile (382MW) and Mexico (296MWdc)

The prospects and challenges of Latin American solar and storage will take centre stage at Solar Media’s Energy Storage Latin America, to be held in Colombia on 28-29 April 2020.

Read the entire story

Cubico takes Mexican 350MWp solar project to finish line

One of the top solar projects supported under Mexico’s now-paralysed auction scheme has been powered up, around two years after development got underway.

On Wednesday, Cubico Sustainable Investments announced its 350MWp Solem project has reached commercial operation at its site in Aguascalientes, a state in central Mexico.

Together with a 250MW wind farm in Nuevo León, now also live, the solar plant will provide enough output to power 200,000 homes and bring 800,000 tonnes in CO2 savings, Cubico said.

In a statement, the firm noted both installations will supply state-run offtaker CFE, as stipulated under contracts secured at Mexico’s US$4 billion renewable auction of 2016.

Osvaldo Rancé, who heads up Cubico’s Mexican operations, said the PV and wind plants will sell “the bulk” of their output and clean energy certificates to CFE at “very competitive prices”.

Construction of 350MWp Solem kicked off in October 2017 at El Llano municipality, a six-hour drive to the northwest of capital Mexico City.  

At the time, Cubico partnered with Spanish IPP Alten Renewable Energy to deliver the one-million-module PV installation, split into 180MWp and 170MWp phases.

The utility-scale project had reached financial close two months beforehand, securing US$230 million in funding from the International Finance Corporation and other development entities.

The financing package was billed by Cubico as a “milestone” for Mexican renewables in an era of energy market liberalisation, following reforms by former president Enrique Peña Nieto.

The rise to power of left-wing successor Andrés Manuel López Obrador has pushed the policy shift into a standstill, with the government asking for more time before cancelled auctions can resume.

Cubico, which is developing a further 400MW wind duo in Mexico, said this week the projects will benefit from their “legacy status” of being backed under the former self-supply framework.  

The status, said Rancé, will bring “competitive advantage” to bag corporate power purchase agreements (PPA), which he touted as “the name of the game” while auctions are postponed.

A recent PV Tech 20 feature explored the policy uncertainties faced by Mexican solar, even as utility-scale momentum shows little sign of abating.

The feature examining the opportunities and risks of Brazilian and Mexican PV was part of PV Tech Power’s Volume 20, which you can subscribe to here

The prospects and challenges of Latin American solar and storage will take centre stage at Solar Media’s Energy Storage Latin America, to be held in Colombia on 28-29 April 2020.

Read the entire story

Uruguay on the lookout for developers of 65MWp solar project

Uruguay is poised for a significant PV boost after plans emerged of a new utility-scale project, which has already secured key construction components.

State-owned power firm UTE recently published a call for a third-party to develop a 65MWp project in Punta del Tigre, a one-hour coastal drive northwest of capital Montevideo.

Firms will have until 25 October to file applications for a contract that will see them take care of preliminary studies, actual installation, commissioning and plant running once it goes live.

Contacted by PV Tech, Uruguay’s Energy Ministry explained the project in the San José department has already secured solar panels, declining however to identify the supplier.

The installation is estimated to cost US$35 million – a sum which excludes the 65MWp PV panel order – and should be up and running by March 2021, a ministry spokesperson explained.

The project will receive its earmarked solar panels between January and March next year and will be linked to Uruguay’s grid via a 150kV substation, UTE documents show.

Utility-scale boost for the solar sponsors in Antarctica

The Ministry spokesperson billed the 65MWp solar project in Punta del Tigre as one of the largest seen to date in Uruguay, a country believed to host 248MW in installed PV capacity last year.

Among its predecessors is La Jacinta, a similarly-sized PV venture – 50MWac / 64MWp – that was described as Uruguay’s first utility-scale solar project when it was completed in early 2016.

The utility-scale forerunner in the Salto department, in northwest Uruguay, was sold by Fotowatio Renewable Ventures to Invenergy in May 2017.

Government records place the powering-up of yet another 50MWac project, El Naranjal in the Salto department, just four months later.

The Latin American state, home last year to 1.5GW in wind power installations, drew industry attention in recent years with its decision to power its Antarctic base with a 100kW solar array.

The prospects and challenges of Latin American solar and storage will take centre stage at Solar Media’s Energy Storage Latin America, to be held in Colombia on 28-29 April 2020.

Read the entire story

IEnova enlists retailer offtaker duo for 150MW solar plant in Mexico

IEnova has turned to two Mexican store chain groups as offtakers for a utility-scale solar project it will be developing in the country, just south of the US border.

The firm revealed this week it has secured two 15-year power purchase agreements (PPAs) for a 150MW solar scheme near Ciudad Juárez, in the border state of Chihuahua.

The deals will see the PV plant supply Mexican convenience store chain Comercializadora Círculo CCK on the one hand, and department store group Puerto de Liverpool on the other.

According to IEnova’s statement, the Ciudad Juárez installation will require some US$160 million in investment and should mark its operational launch in the second half of 2020.

The 150MW Juárez project signals the latest milestone for IEnova, the Mexican subsidiary of San Diego-headquartered power infrastructure group Sempra Energy.

Earlier this year, the developer requested nearly US$400 million in funding from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) to deploy a PV pipeline in Mexico.

According to IFC disclosures in April, the financing is meant to support already operational 110MW Pima Solar, plus three others – 125MW, 100MW, 41MW – working towards commissioning.

More than five months later, the IFC records still show IEnova’s funding request as a “pending decision” for the development financier, with its board of directors yet to rule on the issue.

The utility-scale PV newcomer finds Mexico at a time of political change, following the rise to power of a new government that temporarily froze the renewable auctions enacted by its predecessors.

As the cabinet of Andrés Manuel López Obrador ponders whether to hold the postponed tender – a possibility it does not yet rule out – the PV pipeline does not show signs of slowdown.

The list of utility-scale projects making headway this year include Engie’s 746MW, Neoen’s 375MW, Fotowatio’s merchant bifacial 296MWdcNorthland’s 130MW, EDF’s 119.6MW and others.

Contacted for a recent PV Tech Power feature, local operators claimed private PPAs such as Ienova’s are an increasingly prevalent avenue for PV projects facing the auction standstill.

Baker McKenzie Mexico partner Marco Nieto-Vázquez said his firm has advised on several PPA talks and urged the Mexican government to ensure the grid is expanded to accommodate the new projects. 

The feature examining the opportunities and risks of Brazilian and Mexican PV was part of PV Tech Power’s Volume 20, which you can subscribe to here

The prospects and challenges of Latin American solar and storage will take centre stage at Solar Media’s Energy Storage Latin America, to be held in Colombia on 28-29 April 2020.

Read the entire story

Colombia backs PV plant as president touts clean energy shift at UN summit

One of the largest solar projects to date in Colombia has cleared a key planning hurdle as president Iván Duque promised clean energy leadership at this week’s UN summit.

A 100.5MW solar development in the country’s northeast this week secured an environmental license from ANLA, the government agency tasked with handing out these permits.

Designed to be split into five installations, the complex in Los Santos municipality will produce clean electricity in the region of 212GWh every year, ANLA said in a statement.

The project will, ANLA added, save Colombia two million tonnes of CO2 emissions over its lifespan and help the country meet its goals under the Paris Agreement on climate change of 2015.

Should it go ahead with the planned capacity of 100.5MW, the complex would bring a significant utility-scale addition to Colombia’s PV market.

Home only to 84MW of installed PV capacity last year, the country has witnessed this year the opening of its largest plant to date, Enel’s 86.2MW El Paso.

But all projects to date are set to be dwarfed by Diverxia’s 240MWp Atlántico Photovoltaic, which gained planning approval in January and is thought to have been preselected for auction contracts.

Colombia’s green pledges take the floor in New York

The project milestone came as president Duque vowed to help steer a Latin American coalition of likeminded countries, pushing together for regional clean energy momentum.

Speaking at this week’s UN Climate Action Summit in New York, Duque claimed Colombia has played an “active role” coordinating talks between renewables-supportive Latin American states.

“We’ve brought meetings forward and coordinated with countries including Chile, Peru, Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and Haiti,” Duque said.

“Our goal is to ensure renewable energy sources make up a 70% share by 2030, underscoring the region’s commitment on climate change,” the president added as he addressed the UN summit.

Duque’s touting of Colombia’s green energy credentials comes as the country finalises preparations to hold its first ever large-scale renewable auction, due to go ahead before 31 October 2019.

The tender – rescheduled after a postponement in February – is meant to help diversify Colombia’s hydro-reliant, climate-vulnerable energy mix, offsetting impacts from droughts.

Acciona, Canadian Solar, EDF Renewables, Enel Green Power and Trina Solar have all put projects forward for the tender, which will match developers with buyers for 15-year contracts.

The prospects and challenges of Latin American solar and storage will take centre stage at Solar Media’s Energy Storage Latin America, to be held in Colombia on 28-29 April 2020.

Read the entire story

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