Ten years ago, PROINFA, a Federal Government's program for the development of alternative sources of power generation, was launched. The program had an ambitious goal to provide 1100 MW of wind power in the grid by 2008. Currently, the system has more than 5 GW of installed capacity coming from this source. Given this relative consolidation of the wind energy market, it is important to question whether solar energy is the next frontier.
On the 6th Reserve Energy Auction (Auction 008/2014), solar source sold, in an unprecedented way, about 890 MW, at extremely competitive prices. Before the event, it was expected that the feasibility price of solar projects would be around R$250.00 MW/h, an expectation that, after an intense auction day, dropped to an average price of R$215.12 MW/h.
Despite the good news, the solar energy market in Brazil is still incipient, and is highly dependent on the adoption of an economic and regulatory model by the Federal Government. In this context, some questions still have no clear answers.
It is important to question the level of nationalization required by the federal government for the granting of funding, through BNDES. The Brazilian Photovoltaic Solar Energy Association estimates that, to attract the production chain into the country, particularly in regard to photovoltaic panels (with solar cells produced in Brazil), as required for financing by BNDES from 2020, it would be necessary to contract at least 1 GW per year of energy from this source, in the next 5-10 years.
Given the current product competitiveness, we also need to question whether it would be more important for the development of this source in Brazil that the requirement of local content be less incisive, thus allowing that, at this early stage, the market itself would self-regulate. Would this be the time to create restrictions on the development of this new source of energy?
A better understanding of the role of solar energy in the context of distributed generation is also necessary. If solar energy is still not able to compete with wind energy and other renewable sources in regulated market auctions, thus requiring auctions exclusively for the solar product, the alternative distributed generation, not widely used in Brazil, opens a new market for the solar source and may be an important tool to consolidate it.
From this perspective, there is certainly a need for the consolidation set forth in ANEEL Resolution No. 482/2012, concerning micro and mini energy generation by consumers, particularly as regards the compliance with deadlines and tasks assigned to distributors. These agents were identified as a potential bottleneck in the development of this new and relevant market, according to research done by the Alternative Energy Development Institute in Latin America, in November 2014, before agents of the micro and mini generation market.
Notwithstanding the challenges still existing for its consolidation, solar generation is already a reality in Brazil today, and should conquer its own space slowly, but irreversibly, just as wind power did 10 years ago.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.