Mexico , Honduras , Brazil , Colombia , Venezuela and Panama

Spotlight: LatAm telcos' latest renewable energy projects

Bnamericas Published: Friday, October 14, 2022
Spotlight: LatAm telcos' latest renewable energy projects

Telecom operators in Latin America continue to make strides in upgrading the energy matrix that supplies their operations from clean sources, particularly solar power.

Most of these moves are concentrated in Brazil, although multinationals such as América Móvil and Telefónica have been investing in renewables in other markets such as Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico as part of their global sustainability drives.

For example, Telefónica said it carried out 18 energy efficiency and management initiatives for networks and offices around the world in 2021, achieving savings of 302GWh. The group's total energy consumption was 6,107GWh, of which 95% was electricity and 5% fuel.

The Brazilian subsidiary accounted for 29.2% of the energy consumed by the group, while the rest of Latin America accounted for 30%, it said.

BNamericas provides an update on the projects carried out by telcos in Latin America in distributed generation projects for solar, wind and biomass power.


Brazilian telco Algar Telecom recently announced the activation of its third photovoltaic plant. 

Located in Bela Vista de Goiás, Goiás state, the UFV Bela Vista plant will supply the company's power needs in that region. Athon Energia will be responsible for the operation and maintenance of the site.

With 1,800 photovoltaic panels, the solar farm has 0.603MWp capacity and occupies an area of 1.5ha, according to Algar,

That capacity will be converted into credits, providing a net reduction of 12.5% in overall power costs for Algar, it stated.

Algar began investing in solar energy in 2013, with 28 panels in the region of Uberlândia (Minas Gerais state). 

In 2018, the company inaugurated its first self-generation plant, Capim Branco I, followed by Capim Branco II in 2020.


In Venezuela, Telefónica’s Movistar recently announced plans to supply six local telecom stations with renewable energy through the use of solar panels.

The first such stations are already up and running in Los Valles del Tuy, Miranda state.

In Colombia, Movistar Colombia has had a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Sun Colombia since 2020. The objective of that contract is to buy renewable energy from the solar generation system at the Celta plant in capital Bogotá. 

In Brazil, local subsidiary Telefônica Brasil (Vivo) inaugurated two new solar plants in September under the distributed generation model in the cities of Itabaiana and Lagarto, Sergipe state. The partner in the initiative is Grupo Gera.

In the distributed generation model, the energy produced by the plant is injected into the network of the local utility, in this case Energisa Sergipe, and transformed into credits for use by the consuming company.

Together, the two solar plants will produce 860MWh/year and supply 280 consumer units of the company in the region, Vivo said.

In April, Vivo started operations at its first photovoltaic park in Brazil’s north region, in Roraima state. Voltxs Energia was responsible for the solar park built in state capital Boa Vista. 

Overall, Telefônica Brasil plans to have 85 distributed generation plants operating in the country, mostly solar, supplying around 90% of its low-voltage power demand. Of this total projected generation park, 33 facilities are currently in operation. 

Some 13 plants are planned for the northeast, seven of which are already in operation. When all of them are up and running, the telco’s domestic plants are projected to generate a combined 711GWh/y, serving 30,000 Telefônica consumption units. 

In addition to Voltxs and Gera, other Telefónica partners in Brazil for sourcing renewable energy include Voltalia, TMW Energia and Athon.


Also in Brazil, in April TIM announced two new solar parks in Rio de Janeiro state, in the cities of Três Rios and Vassouras.

TIM's target is to have 77-85 renewable energy plants before the end of this year. It currently has 46.

The vast majority of the new plants will be solar, with a couple of them providing power from biogas and biomass. TIM works with 12 renewable energy providers, including Faro Energy, Enel and EDP.

TIM said it 83% of its power consumption was effectively supplied by renewable sources at the end of 2021. The operator's goal is to reach over 90% by the end of the present year.

In February, TIM also activated what it claimed to be the country's first biosite cellular antenna powered by wind in Rio Grande do Norte state.  Under this model, small wind blades are attached to the upper structure of the site.

Also read: The state of renewable-powered mobile towers in Latin America

The equipment was co-developed with telecom infra company AlfaSite and installed in Praia da Pipa, Tibau do Sul municipality, a traditional tourist destination in the state.

TIM also plans to take advantage of its customer base to act as a direct facilitator to enable its customers to contract shared distributed generation with generators and energytechs.


In Colombia, América Móvil's Claro subsidiary recently said that it upgraded 62 of its base stations (antennas) to solar power through photovoltaic panels. According to Claro Colombia, the initiative is expected to lead to a reduction of about 3,109t of CO2 per year.

In Brazil, 55% of Claro's antennas already use renewable energy, 38% of which comes from solar generation, according to Claro Brasil. In several states, over 90% of antennas are already solar-powered.

Source: Claro Brasil

Last year, Claro Brasil started using a distributed generation biogas plant capable of generating 4.65MW

Built and operated by RZK Energia for the telecom group, the plant generates power from landfill waste and is reportedly the largest of its kind in the distributed generation segment in Brazil.

Claro's clean energy program was created in 2017 and, according to the telco, is the largest such program in Brazil among private companies.

The clean energy complex that supplies the operator currently occupies an area equivalent to 670 football stadiums, according to Claro. The company says it has 52 plants in operation and 24 more in the pipeline.

In its 2021 sustainability report, América Móvil said that its global energy consumption was 6.4mn MWh, of which 21% was from renewable energy. 

The group also said that, during 2021, 46% of its subsidiaries carried out power purchase agreements (PPAs) with power providers.


Brazil’s Oi recently expanded its partnership with French group GreenYellow to include the operation of an invoice management system by the latter.

Early this year, the telco also inked an agreement to buy 20% of the energy generated by a biogas plant built by Eva Energia in Seropédica, Rio de Janeiro state.

In May, Oi signed an agreement with Faro Energy for the development of five new distributed generation plants in Ceará, Mato Grosso do Sul, Pernambuco and Tocantins states. 

According to the telco, Faro would invest 33mn reais in the plants, which will have annual generation capacity of over 15GWh, enough to supply approximately 8,000 homes. 

Oi and Faro Energy also have partnerships for the Jaíba and Janaúba plants in Minas Gerais state, both of which are in operation.

Oi said in May that roughly 50% of its power consumption came from renewable sources in the distributed generation format and that its goal was to reach 80% by the end of 2022 and 100% by 2025. 

Oi also planned to have 32 distributed generation plants in the country. 

Once all of them are up and running, the company forecasts that the energy produced will be equivalent to the annual consumption of more than 86,000 homes.


Millicom has advanced with PPAs for renewable energy in Panama and also carried out a "successful" pilot in Honduras to deploy solar and smart power management systems under the energy-as-a-service (EAAS) model, the Luxembourg-based telco announced.

In its 2021 sustainability report, published in August, the group said it expected to roll out three more such EAAS operations in over 2,700 sites over the next five years. 

"We are testing the EAAS model in one of our datacenters, intending to extend the program in LatAm if the test is successful," the company said.

The telco also has active PPAs in Panama to supply the operation of two datacenters with nearly 40,000MWh per year.

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