With a large share of its land area located in tropical latitudes, Latin America has historically been associated with warm weather and sunshine. In recent years, however, this abundant natural resource saw its popularity expand far beyond tourism, and into the energy sector. Aligned with global trends, the installed solar photovoltaic capacity in Latin America and the Caribbean has increased by more than 140-fold in one decade, surpassing 29.8 gigawatts in 2021. With the cost of solar installations annually decreasing and the cry for more investment in renewable energies growing louder, this tendency shows no signs of slowing down.
A sector in expansion
When it comes to installed capacity, the solar PV sector in Latin America is led by three nations – namely Brazil, Mexico, and Chile. Combined, they accounted for over 80 percent of the region’s solar capacity in 2021, and expansion projects are already on the pipeline. The installed centralized capacity in Brazil was forecast to grow by 70 percent between 2021 and 2025, surpassing seven gigawatts in the latter year. By that same year, Mexico's installed capacity was expected to reach 14 gigawatts. Likewise, additions of nearly four gigawatts to Chile’s solar PV capacity were already under construction as of January 2022, with further approved projects adding up to a combined capacity of more than 28 gigawatts.
While these three countries dominate the current market, there is even more potential to be explored in Latin America. Although still lagging behind its neighbors Brazil and Chile, Argentina’s solar capacity more than quintupled between 2018 and 2021. Meanwhile, in Colombia, projects with a combined capacity of more than 400 megawatts were in development in the first months of 2021. Within the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic stands out in terms of planned capacity.
The cost of solar in Latin America
Although the development of solar power has received a fair amount of both governmental and foreign investment support in Latin America, this rapid expansion would not have been possible without the increasing price-competitiveness of solar systems. For example, the cost of solar PV electricity in Brazil dropped by half between 2016 and 2020, for both the residential and the commercial sector. The price of PV systems in Chile has also declined across all size ranges. For utility-scale installations, solar modules were still the costliest component in most Latin American countries, ranging between 200 and 350 U.S. dollars per kilowatt in 2020.
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In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 29 most important statistics relating to "Solar power in Latin America".