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Photovoltaic Market Research in South America

With the downward adjustment of domestic market expectations and the increase of foreign market growth potential, China’s photovoltaic industry will accelerate to the overseas market, and the overseas layout of capital and the export of photovoltaic products show an upward trend. The overseas market is becoming a new wrestling point for Chinese photovoltaic enterprises. Understanding and deepening the overseas market and formulating product strategies and market strategies suitable for the overseas market are the key to obtain market share. The power grid structure, photovoltaic standards, photovoltaic policies and market environment of different countries are different, which brings complexity and difficulty to Chinese photovoltaic enterprises to explore overseas markets. This paper introduces the photovoltaic market in South America.


1. Development and current situation of photovoltaic market in South America


South America, located in the western and southern hemisphere, is the fourth largest continent in land area. With a population of more than 400 million, South America ranks fifth in the world. The main countries are Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia and so on. The level of economic development and economic strength of South American countries vary widely. Brazil and Argentina are the most economically developed countries. Together with Venezuela, Colombia, Chile and Peru, the GDP of the six countries accounts for more than 90% of the continent. The modern economy of all countries is highly concentrated in a few large cities or coastal areas, and the economy in mountainous and remote areas is backward.


Brazil has sufficient sunlight and abundant solar energy resources throughout the year. It is a very ideal area for the construction of solar photovoltaic power stations. The Brazilian Energy Research Institute EPE predicts that by 2022, the installation of roof photovoltaic power generation system in Brazil will reach 1.4gw. Meanwhile, Brazil plans to increase its installed capacity of photovoltaic power generation to 7gw by 2024, accounting for about 3.3% of the total power generation; By 2050, this proportion will reach 18%. The installed capacity was 0.42gw in 2016 and 1.15gw in 2017. The installed capacity will reach 2.0gw in 2018.


At present, hydropower generation in Brazil still accounts for an important proportion, but the voice of environmental protection around the world is getting higher and higher, it is more and more difficult to build new hydropower stations in the rainforest area, and Brazil’s urbanization process needs more power supply. In order to meet the power demand, the Brazilian government has provided a series of preferential policies for photovoltaic enterprises, including low interest loans and exemption from import tax. In recent years, Chinese enterprises have entered the Brazilian market and built some power station projects. However, Brazil’s tax, labor and legal policies are complex, and the political and economic situation is not very stable. These are all factors that need to be considered.




Argentina plans to increase the proportion of renewable energy in the domestic energy structure to 20% by 2025, which is expected to become the most attractive renewable energy market in Latin America. In order to achieve this goal, Argentina is expected to conduct a series of renewable energy auctions in the next few years. It is expected that 10 million kilowatts of renewable energy will be auctioned by 2025. In October 2016, the Argentine government issued 1.1 million kilowatts of renewable energy projects through competitive auction, including 400000 kilowatts of solar energy projects. In November 2017, the Argentine government awarded the 1408 MW power generation capacity project and promised to expand the capacity to 2000 MW. It is estimated that the investment in renewable energy projects will reach US $2.5 billion to US $3 billion, of which 556.8 MW comes from solar energy. In order to support Argentina’s clean energy project under the renovar program, the World Bank approved a new guarantee program of US $250 million to promote the sustainable utilization and development of the country’s natural resources. Meanwhile, the Argentine government issued 4.498 billion yuan of treasury bonds for the establishment of a renewable energy development fund foder to provide financial support for Argentina’s renewable energy projects.


Renewable energy in Mexico accounts for about 20% of the energy structure. In 2017, the Mexican Ministry of Energy announced the new energy transformation plan on its official website and set the goal of new energy development. It is expected that new energy will account for 30% by 2021 and 60% by 2050. It is expected to become the seventh largest solar photovoltaic market in the world by 2021. The installed capacity of photovoltaic in Mexico will reach 14.1gw, and the largest solar power park in Latin America has been built, with a cost of 650 million US dollars and an area equivalent to 2200 football fields, After it is put into operation, it is enough to supply the power needs of 1.3 million households.


Mexico has actively introduced the clean energy certification mechanism (CEL), which will generate another 24 TWH of clean energy for Mexico by 2022. Large companies can purchase certificates through bilateral contracts or through wholesale markets. The completed three rounds of clean energy bidding has contributed to the sale of 5.4 million cels starting in 2018 and will reach 9.3 million in 2019, which will further promote the enterprise PPA agreement.


In November 2017, Trina Solar, in cooperation with Mitsui Co., Ltd., successfully won the bid for the 104mw single photovoltaic power plant project in sacatecas, Mexico, and is expected to be put into commercial operation in the second quarter of 2020. The project will be the second large-scale ground power station project developed and constructed by Trina Solar in Mexico, which has opened a good beginning for the development of Chinese enterprises in Latin America.


2. Introduction to solar energy resources in South America


Most parts of South America belong to tropical rain forest climate and tropical grassland climate. The climate is characterized by warm and humid, mainly tropical, and not significant continental. Except for mountains, the average temperature of the coldest month in winter in the whole continent is above 0 ℃, and the average temperature in tropical areas, which account for the main part of the mainland, is more than 20 ℃. Winter is much warmer than North America. In the west of South America, there are tropical desert climate and Mediterranean climate distributed in a belt, the Andes is alpine climate, and in the southeast of South America, there are subtropical monsoon and monsoon humid climate. The average temperature of the hottest month in summer in most areas is between 26.8 ℃, and the annual range of temperature in South America is small.


3. South American power grid, electricity price and photovoltaic standard


The voltage of Brazil’s power grid is chaotic. The residential voltage is divided into 127V and 220V, and the frequency is 60Hz. Many families have both 127 and 220V. Brazil’s industrial voltage is generally divided into three-phase 220V, three-phase 380V and three-phase 440V. Because the voltage in Brazil is divided into old power grid and new power grid. The new power grid is generally 440V, which is basically the case in Sao Paulo. The old power grid will use 380V, which is now 380V in many parts of Brazil. In addition, a large part of them are 220V and 60Hz. Generally, small factories use three-phase 220V.


To enter the photovoltaic market in Brazil, you must obtain certification. The certification standard in Brazil is abnt NBR 16149 & 16150 & 62116. Inverters less than 10kW need to be listed (Inmetro list).


Inmetro is Brazil’s national accreditation body, which is responsible for formulating Brazilian national standards. Most product standards in Brazil are based on IEC and ISO standards. Manufacturers who need to export products to Brazil should refer to these two sets of standards when designing products. Products that meet Brazilian standards and other technical requirements must be added with the mandatory Inmetro mark and the mark of an approved third-party certification body before they can enter the Brazilian market.


In order to promote the better development of clean energy, Brazil’s National Electric Energy Agency (aneel) approved the net metering amendment bill. The construction period of photovoltaic power plants below 75kW will be reduced from 82 days to 34 days, and the maximum installed capacity of photovoltaic power plants will be adjusted from 1MW to 5MW; The time limit for accumulating credit points of photovoltaic power generation projects is adjusted from 36 months to 60 months. The new law came into force on March 1, 2016. Aneel predicts that this series of amendments will enable Brazil to add 4.5gw of photovoltaic installed capacity by 2024.


The voltage of Argentina grid is the same as Chinese mainland, the single-phase 230V three-phase 400V, the frequency is 50Hz. At present, it mainly focuses on large-scale ground power plants. At present, PowerChina is one of the largest EPC contractors in Argentina. It has undertaken many projects, such as gaocharui 315mw photovoltaic project, Rome Branca and Miramar 355mw wind power project, kafayat 97.6mw photovoltaic project and so on.