Sunrise over Amazon
(This article was first featured as a LinkedIn post from Canadian Solar CEO Dr. Shawn Qu)
This week, Canadian Solar announced a joint venture with EDF Energies Nouvelles, another global market leader in renewable energy, to build a 191.5 MW solar power plant in Pirapora, Brazil. The construction of the power plant as just begun, we expect to reach commercial operation in less than a year. The project is located in the State of Minas Gerais and once completed it will provide 400,000 MWh of clean electricity every year. Canadian Solar will supply locally produced solar modules from its new solar module factory near São Paulo.
I can’t help to reflect on the three-year journey leading us to this milestone. In 2014, Canadian Solar started to develop utility-scale solar projects and win energy auctions in Brazil. We were successful in all three governmental energy auctions, and we accumulated a total pipeline of around 400 MW for utility-scale solar power plants.
Then Brazil went into economic and political turmoil. The country was downgraded, its local currency was devalued, and the president was impeached. This made it difficult to finance many solar projects. Solar is not a cottage business, and it’s not for the faint-hearted. However, we believe that Brazil will recover and we feel comfortable about its long-term future. Fortunately EDF shares the same view. The strong partnership and our combined track records and balance sheets made the project financeable.
We will definitely build our entire 400 MW pipeline in Brazil. Together these projects will represent an investment of about 2 billion Brazilian Reais, create more than 600 jobs and engage many local contractors and suppliers in the solar value chain. And we will participate in Brazil’s future energy auctions. The more, the better.
Canadian Solar has started producing solar modules in Sorocaba in the State of São Paulo. Just this month we won the distinction of “Best PV Module Manufacturer In Brazil”, by an overwhelming voting margin, in the “Second Annual Innovation and Technology Awards” organized by FRG Group and SolarBrazil magazine. With state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment, this factory can chunk out 360 MW, or more than one million pieces of high-performance solar modules every year, creating another 400 manufacturing jobs and even more indirect supply jobs.
This is just the first of many Canadian Solar investments in Brazil. Let’s work together to promote renewable energy, boost the economy and create new jobs there. Let’s ask the Brazilian government to support both the renewable energy auctions and the distributed generation program. And let’s turn the 7th largest economy in the world into one of the top-7 countries for solar together.
Meanwhile, Canadian Solar will continue to innovate and bring even more powerful and even lower-cost solar panels to the market. Together we can make sure Brazil scores big in the solar world cup, with head, feet and soul, and no handball.