Brazil’s football team, the Selecao, gave Australia’s Socceroos a lesson in the fine arts of football on Saturday (they won 6-0), and it seems that the country’s energy authorities could give Australia a lesson in how to bring in large scale renewables development as well.
As Australia faces at least another year of policy uncertainty and stagnation in the renewables sector, Brazil has attracted a huge amount of interest from the developers of wind farms and solar farms for a government auction in November.
The government energy agency EPE over the weekend announced it had received registrations for 929 wind farm proposals totaling 15,042MW of capacity and for 119 solar farms with 3,019MW of capacity. This includes 10 concentrated solar thermal projects, totaling 290MW.
Registrations have also been received for 295MW of small-hydro plants, 504MW of biomass projects, 39MW of biogas enterprises and 469MW of gas-fired power plants.
The auction system is similar to that employed by South Africa, another country whose national team gave Australia a sporting lesson on the weekend (the Springboks thumped the Wallabies 38-12 in a rugby union international). South Africa has targeted 3.2GW of renewable energy capacity by 2020, and is now completing construction of the first solar PV, solar thermal, and wind energy projects from its first round of auctions. The second auction is now underway.
Auctions have only been used in Australia by the ACT government, which has so far allocated 40MW of solar PV capacity to three projects that will be built within the next 18 months, although it may use the same mechanism to get another 660MW of renewable energy built by 2020.
The Brazilian auctions have been particularly successful. A recent round of bidding allocated 1,500MW of wind energy capacity at an average price of $49/MWh. Those projects must be complete by September, 2015.
EPE president Mauricio Tolmasquim says the inclusion of solar plants sized 5MW and above in the auction will herald the coming of age of solar in the country.
“With the verified fall of photovoltaic panel prices, solar energy generation will tend to gain space in the Brazilian energy matrix,” Tolmasquim said.
Not that there has been a shortage of interest in Australia. It’s just that it doesn’t result in much getting built. The now defunct Solar Flagships program, which was looking at constructing 1,000MW of large scale solar, attracted 50GW of proposals when it was first announced in 2009.
Still, the only project that will be built from that program, a 155MW facility spread between Broken Hill and Nyngan, will not begin construction until next year. By the time it is complete, late in 2015, all the winning tenders for Brazil’s November auction will be required to be on-line.