What is your background, your current position and how long have you already been active in solar PV?
I am co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Solarpack. Before founding Solarpack I was the Managing Director of the Guascor Group in Vitoria (Spain) from 2002 to 2004, where I oversaw the development and construction of 400 MW of wind farms. Before that, I worked with the Swiss Sulzer Group (1986 to 2001) in Madrid, New York and Winterthur (Switzerland) where I became President of the Sulzer Chemtech Division and a member of the Executive Committee of the Sulzer Group. I founded the Spanish Solar PV Association and was also the first President of the Spanish Wind Industry Association from 2002 to 2004.
I started to get involved in Solar pv projects back in 2004. In April 2005 we founded Solarpack and I have been connected to this industry ever since.
|"Early in 2008 we started to realize that feed-in tariffs in Spain and Europe would become a limitation for the growth of solar PV"|
Early in 2008 we started to realize that feed-in tariffs in Spain and Europe would become a limitation for the growth of solar PV and we started to look outside our borders for other markets. We moved to Chile by the summer and already started operations before the year ended. Our presence in Peru came forth from Solarpack being present in Chile with local teams and experience when the first international bid was called in, in the autumn of 2009.
|"Our biggest success was to be one of the first players to seriously consider the potential of Latin America"|
I believe our biggest success was to be one of the first players to seriously consider the potential of Latin America and to believe that grid parity was going to be the driver of solar PV success in the long term. Northern Chile and Southern Peru are among the few places in the world in 2013 where grid parity has already been achieved successfully at wholesale prices.
|"If someone believes that we are going to see hundreds of MWs of Solar PV deployed in the next two or three years, I think it will be a wrong call"|
While the conditions for PV are ideal in Chile and Peru - as both markets are “investment grade” and their economies are growing - we cannot forget that they are still small markets. If someone believes that we are going to see hundreds of MWs of Solar PV deployed in the next two or three years, I think it will be a wrong call. At Solarpack, we do not think that we are going to see a relevant amount of MWs being contracted through PPAs, but that, for the time being, it's more likely to be a slow process of getting used to the technology and its management by a very conservative industry like the mining industry.
|"We believe that utility scale solar PV will be the driving segment"|
Chile and Peru are two very different markets with different drivers. In Peru the grid is bigger & interconnected and deals with the injection of gas power stations that set the electricity market price. Chile has a much smaller grid. In fact, it has two non-interconnected grids with complete different drivers for each of them. I believe that all the three segments of solar PV will all have a space in these markets eventually, but from the resources, funding, competing capacity and management point of view, we believe that utility scale solar PV will be the driving segment because of its economies of scale in sourcing and funding.
What is the best turnkey PV system price you heard for a bigger power plant in Peru or Chile? And to what LCOE for solar energy would this lead?
PV system prices are changing daily. For our plant in Moquegua, that is to be built in 2014, we have a PPA at 12c$/kWh for twenty years.
What is your vision on the position of the energy utilities in Latin America? Do they consider solar energy as an opportunity or a disruption of their current business?
Energy Utilities in Latin America behave very much the same way as in the rest of the world. They are very conservative, they will not be the pioneers of new technologies, but once a new generation technology gets settled in the market they will embrace it and they will try to lead that segment of the market as well.
|"Chile, Peru and probably Brazil & Mexico will become relevant solar PV markets"|
|"Markets in the area to watch are Colombia, Ecuador and Uruguay"|
What is needed to really get the Latin American markets ignited? What elements/conditions/incentives are missing?
Latin America has the economic growth today and a very good solar resource in general. Political stability and long term financial commitments and instruments are the necessary ingredients to complete a successful picture.
|"You can feel there is a positive attitude towards foreign investments and developments"|
Which global solar industry development has surprised you most in the past 5 years? And what do you think will surprise us in the coming years?
We all expected a cost reduction in solar pv back in 2008, but nobody could have imagined a cost reduction of the magnitude we have witnessed. It has happened at the same time that the main market, Europe, had a demand collapse. I think we will see Solar and Wind complementing Natural Gas in the building of the new generation park in the world to supply the additional electricity needed in the next twenty years.
Look into your crystal ball: what will the Chilean and Peruvian solar PV markets look like in 2020?
For Chile, I think solar PV can get up to 10% of the SING (Northern Grid) installed power by that time, which will represent an accumulated figure of up to 500-600 MW. The market at the SIC (Central Grid) looks more difficult to foresee due to the influence of both new hydro and new thermal generation in the region.
Peru seems to be leaning to off-grid distributed solar PV for the next renewable program, so the situation is uncertain for utility scale generation at this time.
José Galíndez will be one of the expert speakers of the 'Global Demand Conference VII', hosted on the 18th of June in Munich. For more information on the conference, please go to:http://www.globaldemandconference.com/