Brazil achieves historical landmark of 500 MW PV distributed generation

According to figures from the Brazilian Photovoltaic Solar Energy Association (ABSOLAR), most of the installed capacity – 371.9 MW – was installed in 2018. Commercial PV dominates with 43.2% as cheaper modules and higher electricity tariffs, combined with a national net metering regulation, continue to fuel installation rates.

PV systems in Brazil installed under the regulatory framework for distributed generation – arrays up to 5 MW in size – reached 501.9 MW at the end of December, according to statistics released by ABSOLAR.

Most of this capacity – around 371.9 MW – was connected last year, the association revealed. That compares to 121.5 MW in 2017, 48.6 MW in 2016, and just 9.7 MW in 2015.

Some 49,177 PV systems were operational under net metering in Brazil at the end of last year. Around 75% of them were residential installations while commercial and industrial systems accounted for 16.8% and 2.7%, respectively, with the remainder including rural community projects and those of public entities.

Commercial PV had a 43.2% slice of capacity, followed by the residential and industrial, with 35.7% and 10.3%, respectively.

The state of Minas Gerais is the only one with more than 100 MW of distributed PV, to lead the national ranking with 21.8% of installed capacity, followed by Rio Grande do Sul (15.7%), São Paulo ( 12.2%), Paraná (6.1%) and Santa Catarina (5.4%).

Popular support for solar PV

ABSOLAR president of the board of administration, Ronaldo Koloszuk, stressed the strong growth of the last two years was due to cheaper PV modules, higher power tariffs and an increased environmental awareness among consumers.

ABSOLAR CEO, Rodrigo Sauaia, highlighted that research conducted by Ibope Inteligência in 2018 and 2017 – and by Datafolha in 2016 and DataSenado in 2015 – show that the solar photovoltaic [energy] source has [the] broad support of more than 85% of the Brazilian population.

Net metering legislation was introduced by the Brazilian government in 2012 but it was only in 2016 that the National Regulatory Agency (ANEEL) introduced a package of measures that unlocked the potential of net metering nationally. That legislation included improvements such as virtual net metering, community net metering, online subscription procedures to streamline new connection requests, and an increase of the size limit for projects to qualify for net metering, to 5 MW.

Brazil’s Electricity Regulatory Agency – Aneel – is projecting that net metering could result in 886,723 small and medium scale distributed generation PV systems by 2024.