The Green Energy 2013 report on merger and acquisition activity in the Americas noted that emerging markets, particularly sun rich Latin American countries like Chile, Brazil and Uruguay, have explosive growth potential for solar development.
Renewable energy is already cost competitive and even has grid parity in some cases, according to the report.
Chile stands out as one of the emerging Latin American markets attracting major investors.
Duke Energy paid $415 million in 2012 for Iberoamericana de Energia, which owns 140 megawatts of hydropower generation. Latin America Power paid an undisclosed amount for 46 megawatts of wind power generation in Chile.
While wind and other renewable energy developers have been working in Latin America, the market seems particularly attractive to solar developers and investors, according to the report.
“Several countries in Latin America are blessed with fantastic solar resources and a growing number, including Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Uruguay, have now established solar subsidy mechanisms or development framework,” the report reads.
Those subsidy frameworks will allow for more rapid solar industry growth in those countries.
Developers have already started announcing projects. First Solar, for example, announced at the end of 2012 that it plans to build 1.5 gigawatts of solar capacity in Chile by 2020. The massive solar installations will power mining operations in the northern part of the country.
Solar is cost competitive even without recently developed government incentives in that remote region where the mining industry uses large amounts of power and currently relies primarily on diesel generators.
“The solar plants offer a substantial saving to mining companies,” according to the report.
Because the mines are in the high desert, which is rich in solar resources, but far from cities and diesel supply lines, the report says mining companies will pay an average of $100 per megawatt hour for solar electricity. They are currently $350 per megawatt hour and even more.
Circumstances like that lead Green Power Conferences leaders to assert that the market for solar development in emerging markets like Chile is strong. The organization is hosting a solar conference in Chile in September.