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SunEdison, a US developer of PV projects, has submitted plans to develop two PV plants in Antofagasta in northern Chile adding a total of 72MW of solar capacity to the country, according to the Chilean news site Diario Financiero. One plant will have a capacity of 33.48MW and the other will have 38.59MW.
Power produced from this project, which requires an investment of around US$171 million, will be fed into the Northern Interconnected System (SING) where it will be distributed throughout the region to meet the growing demand for electricity, particularly from the mining sector. According to Photon, the lack of power available has meant that the local mining industry has had difficulty expanding.
Photon also revealed that the application was the first PV project submitted to Servicio de Evaluación Ambiental (SEA), the Chilean environmental authority, in August compared with four in July. In the last three years, more than 25 large-scale PV projects have been submitted to SEA with a total capacity of 3,400MW. However, many projects have struggled to obtain financing. As a result, projects with a total capacity of 700MW have received environmental permits.
These statistics indicate that Chile is still a relatively untapped solar resource despite having some of the best geographical and social conditions for the development of PV projects. However, interest has been increasing in recent months. In June, Etrion set up an office in the country’s capital Santiago and is planning on developing a 5MW PV project in the country. In July, Sky Solar announced that it would invest US$900 million in the development of 300MW of capacity in Chile.