Latin America could significantly benefit from solar energy. Earlier this year, Renewable Energy World reported that the region has long been viewed as a key growth region for solar power, and along with the Caribbean, about 450 megawatts of grid-connected solar photovoltaics are expected to be installed in the area this year.
Latin America is home to few pure-play solar companies, which has proven to effectively attract solar project developers to the region, Renewable Energy World reported.
Five countries in Latin America have shown high promise for solar energy expansion. A recent report by the source identified Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru and the Dominican Republic as the most promising solar PV markets in the region.
Brazil is home to the largest electricity market in Latin America, and solar installations could help bring down the high cost of energy in the country, the source said. The country also already has a net-metering program, a tax incentive scheme and a renewable energy target of generating 27 gigawatts of power by 2020, making it an ideal place for solar expansion.
The Brazilian government also recently announced it would provide $1.5 billion in grants and loans to fund solar and other renewable energy research, Bloomberg reported. The initiative, called the Inova Energia program, will make it easier for solar power companies to commercialize their technology, making it available to more residents.
More than 2 GW of large-scale solar projects have been proposed so far in the country, and a number of 1-megawatt projects are in the works and expected to be completed before the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.
Mexico and other solar energy markets in Latin America
Mexico has also set a renewable energy target: To have 25 percent of power generation come from solar and other alternative sources by 2014, Renewable Energy World reported. Electricity rates in the country vary, making energy costly in some areas. However, this has attracted more solar energy installations in order to steady these electricity rates and lower energy bills for many residents. The source said a stable economic and investment outlook in Mexico will likely continue to drive foreign investment and installations in the country.
In early May, Mexican and Spanish authorities launched a new program to provide solar energy in remote areas of Oaxaca. The program's goal is to bring electricity to 9,500 households by using solar panels. The four-year program also includes extending hours of light and installing electrical outlets in homes.
Unlike Mexico, Peru has a small electricity market. However, Renewable Energy World said its relatively mature solar market, strong renewable energy targets and low investment risk compared to other countries in the region make it an ideal spot for solar installations. PV installations could offer significant support to Peru's electricity grid. The country's disparate population and electricity transmission challenges of transporting energy through the mountainous country could benefit from reliable solar power, the source said.
Peru recently completed new PV power plants in the southern part of the country. The plants helped bump the country's solar energy production to more than 100 megawatts, Peru This Week reported. Peruvian President Ollanta Humala said the plants make Peru the top solar producing country in South America.
Chile, too, has big plans for solar energy. The government announced plans to reduce its emissions from mining smelters and will turn to solar energy to provide clean, renewable power to its residents. The Chile Energy Ministry also recently obtained $50 million in international financing to develop solar energy projects throughout the country, the National Resources Defense Council reported. The money will be used to build projects for the country's northern and central electric grids.