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New Energy World magazine logo
New Energy World magazine logo
ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

Latin America sets its sights on solar


Aerial view of Mendubim solar project Photo: Scatec
The 531 MW Mendubim solar project in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil

Photo: Scatec

A number of new solar projects have recently been commissioned in Latin America, supporting the region’s decarbonisation and net zero plans.

Norwegian renewable energy company Scatec, together with partners Hydro Rein (part of Norsk Hydro) and Equinor have announced the commissioning of the Mendubim solar farm in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. The 531 MW solar plant comprises several projects and marks ‘a significant step in advancing sustainable energy initiatives in one of the world’s largest energy-producing countries’, say the partners.


The companies have secured a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Alunorte – a leading global supplier of alumina for the aluminium industry; majority owned by Hydro. Some 60% of Mendubim’s power will go to Alunorte’s alumina refinery in the state of Pará, supporting the facility’s goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The remaining generating capacity will be marketed in the Brazilian power market.


The solar farm is expected to avoid some 3mn tonnes of CO2 emissions.


Scatec, Hydro Rein and Equinor hold equal 30% interests in Mendubim, with Alunorte holding the remaining 10%.


Solar first in Colombia

Elsewhere in Latin America, Enerfín’s 102 MW Portón del Sol solar farm has begun commercial operation. Located in the Colombian municipality of La Dorada, Caldas, in the Magdalena Medio region, the project is connected to the Purnio 230 kV substation through a 1.3 km transmission line, boosting the net effective capacity of the national transmission grid to 20,022 MW.


Portón del Sol is reported to be the first centrally dispatched solar plant to be declared in commercial operation in Colombia.


Hybrid, hurricane resistant power

Meanwhile, a ‘hurricane-resistant’ micro power plant has been commissioned on the twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda. The 0.72 MW capacity hybrid solar power station has been developed under the $50mn UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund – a partnership between the United Arab Emirate’s (UAE) Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development and Masdar– which aims to deploy renewable energy projects across 16 Caribbean countries to reduce energy costs, increase energy access and enhance climate resilience.


In the wake of Hurricane Irma, which destroyed 95% of Barbuda on 6 September 2017 and forced all 1,800 residents to be evacuated to Antigua, the new hybrid solar, battery and back-up diesel project is designed to survive 265 km/h winds.


The plant will enable Barbuda to reduce annual diesel fuel consumption by 406,000 litres and cut CO2 emissions by over 1mn kg. It will contribute to the twin-island nation’s goal of meeting 86% of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2030.


To find out more about Brazil’s energy transition, visit the Energy Institute Statistical Review Country Transition Tracker.